Some people say that winning isn’t everything, that there’s a certain dignity in losing if you had to do it once upon a time. The truth is, winning is all. Whether you win or lose, the exhilaration of the win, the agony of the defeat are all part of the experience. In fact, it’s the veryasis of the suffering which – in some minds at least – gives the game so much of its rightful gravity.
We’re all guilty in some way or another of yielding to the pull of a bandwagon the first week of the NFL season. I remember always being a big fan of Bill Parcells and the Giants back in the day, and just always going to the games. Just like I love being part of the Monday Night Football team, I’m part of the Green Bay Packer fans, and for some reason we always go to the games. Well, not exactly on Monday nights.
The point is, sometimes I forget about that arrogance I know that comes with fire and pride and every bit as essential to the sports world as its always been. I’d forgotten about the pack of us, the Packer fans, getting together for a post-rington game celebration. So I go to the concessions to buy a beer or two, listen to the game, then we sit around the ring of the upper deck bullpen and start the drinking the game away.
You have to remember this is just a game, a competition. We’re all in it together to win, and for that beer I’ll pay you back from the convenience store next door. “Play like a Champion,” I hear the bartender say to me with his yellow legality card. I don’t need one since I’m not playing for anything and I hear that through the crack in the door I hear the AK on the other side of the phone. It rings three times and I answer it, “Yes, yes, yes,” and so I start on the path that leads to the showers to wash the money I just won in five seconds.
As I drink, I start to forget about the pack of us that are sitting around the bullpen. I start to daydream and actually start to believe some of the things I used to believe about myself. Like, I used to play basketballs on the weekend; I used to hate getting dressed up to go out; I used to skip out on work; I wasn’t working a job, it was entertainment, which I found more rewarding than any seek-out of earning a living.
Now I look at football, and I see those eyes of Mine that I can never get away from. The Dallas Cowboys are the team that always sprouts wings, as they grow up. The NFL is rife with lateseason twists and turns and surprise teams. The Ravens are different now; the Broncos are different now; the Patriots are different now; the Cardinals are different now; the Saints are; well, you get the point.
But I don’t think for a second that the Ravens are going to the Super Bowl or the Cowboys are going to get to the Super Bowl. I don’t think that the Cleveland Browns are going to the Super Bowl (not that they should, by the way). I don’t think it’s going to happen this year. I think it’s going to happen next year. I know that people are going to say the playoffs are impossible. You can say, “They have the quarterback (Tom Brady) and the running back (Mike Wallace).” You can say that in the spring. But I’m not going to mess with history. I really do believe that in a few short years, the Ravens will be the team to take it to the Super Bowl. And then it’ll be the Dallas Cowboys’ turn.