- David Wells
This is the first post I have EVER written about football. I once (oh so foolishly, oh so long ago) wrote in the pre-blog emailing days of thinklings that sports was the male version of soap operas. What an idiot I was.
About 4 years ago, my eldest son (then age 7) got interested in football. REALLY interested. Being in Texas, and given that his grandfather was a big Dallas Cowboys fan, that's what he became, and I decided to go with him.
It's been fun & agonizing being a Cowboys fan...but the best part has been the FOOTBALL! I have actually been learning the game. He, of course, now knows way more than me, but I can at least keep up now. I watch football with an appreciation that I have never had before. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE watching football now. And I feel like I've been given an appreciation for athleticism that I've never had before.
I love watching a player dodge 2 defenders & leap through the air like Superman and come down with a ball that no ordinary mortal could have caught. I love watching a player make a great block to give his quarterback the second more that he needs to make a great pass. I love watching a running back break tackles like Batman running through Arkham. I love everything about football. (Except the injuries. That I could live without. I cringe and pray every time someone is left lying on the field.)
Since the Cowboys didn't make the playoffs, I've been rooting for the underdogs. So yes, I wanted it to be the Redskins vs. the Ravens in the Superbowl, but once the Redskins were knocked out on the NFC side, I was going for the 49'ers.
Here's why, and you finally get to read the purpose of this post:
I have found, when watching a team that isn't "my team", that I root for the team with an individual I like. I just pick a player I can get behind, and root for his team. (I have also found that football is way more fun to watch when you are rooting for someone.) I have watched many a game, not caring which side wins, and enjoyed just appreciating the good plays, but there is an emotional involvement when you want someone to win, that adds to the intensity of the watching experience.
So this past season, according to my son, will either be called: the year of the comeback (because of Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Ray Lewis and others) or the year of the rookie quarterback.
Have you noticed all the running quarterbacks we've had lately? I used to think that such guys were ball hogs. (Again. I was an idiot back before I appreciated football.) Now I see what amazing athletes they are. I love watching those guys: Tebow, RGIII and yeah, Colin Kaepernick.
I also have to admit that I really like the "story" angle when I decide who to root for if my team isn't in the game. (thus lending credence to my "male soap opera theory") So when deciding who to root for in the playoffs, I was going for the underdog because I love an upset. I love it when a team is able to do what no one thought they could.
I also look for the player with a story. So now as we approach Superbowl XLVII, I am torn.
Do I root for Ray Lewis, back at the Superbowl over a decade later? He was Superbowl MVP 12 years ago! He has been playing for the Ravens for 16 years. His only team and the last inaugural player for them. I loved that they let him line up as fullback in their last regular season game at home so that he could do his pregame dance for the fans. I love that he ripped off his shirt to reveal that it said "Psalms 91". He's so passionate and emotional and clearly the leader of the team, that I forgave the fact that he had an "s" at the end of "Psalms". I so loved his emotional display after beating Tom Brady and the Patriots, that I didn't mind that the cameras showed his rear end while he prayed and praised God for the victory. I so loved his sincerity, that I forgave the fact that he said, "No weapon formed against the Ravens shall prosper", totally misusing Scripture. I so loved his tenderness, that I forgave him hugging on his team owner in the locker room while the owner stroked Lewis' forearm. It's been so much fun rooting for him to win so that he wouldn't end his career on a loss. I would love for him to end on a victory, which means me rooting for the Ravens to win this SuperBowl just so I can vicariously celebrate with Ray Lewis!
Or do I root for Colin Kaepernick, replacing the starter mid-season, and running like a maniac? Once the Cowboys lost to the Redskins, I rooted for them to go to the Superbowl (really I was rooting for RG3...once they were out I was rooting for Colin Kaepernick.) Dude has never even started for a whole season. Comes out of nowhere and WHAM! He is so much fun to watch. What an athlete. I saw recently that someone criticized Kaepernick's tatoos because "the quaterback shouldn't look like an inmate". Man, did his mom have a comeback for that one, saying that he was a good boy and his arm tatoos are all Bible verses. It made me want Kaepernick to win so that that I could imagine his mom saying, "That's my boy."
I know the media is going to play up the "brother vs. brother" thing because of the coaches Harbaugh, but to me it's Kaepernick vs. Lewis. Bible verses on the arms vs. Bible verses on the lips. Young vs. Old. I don't know will make me happier. To see a young guy come out of nowhere to take the top prize thus making columnists argue if Kaepernick's style will revolutionize the role of QB or to see Ray Lewis emote like a crazy old man and dance one more time.
What about you? Who are you rooting for and how do you choose?
Oh and how much does whether or not you "like" an individual player have to do with which team you root for, if your main team isn't in the game?
All other SuperBowl and NFL comments can go here. Let the football talk commence!