The Breakdown: Optimistically cynical
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When you’re a fan of a perpetual loser – like, say, the Chicago Cubs – you develop an interesting outlook on your team.
Obviously, with over a century’s worth of ineptitude, your level of cynicism seems to rise above that of fans of other, more fortunate franchises.
At the same time, though, you want your team to win so badly that you try to look past every little shred of negative evidence to see that silver lining, that hope that if they pull it together for one strong stretch, you’ll be watching a victory parade – rather than a press conference in which your team president is talking about “rebuilding” for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons.
Anyway, this is where I’m at in my life as a fan. I’m cynical; I don’t trust any player that puts on the Cubby-blue pinstripes. Yet, at the same time, I’m uncontrollably optimistic that these career underachievers will finally live up to their promise and – boom! – we’re looking at a first World Series title since, um, you know, 1908.
It’s all pretty sad, I know, but I don’t have much choice.
Anyway, I figured I’d lend my optimistically cynical outlook to some other downtrodden fans, those who have been orange crushed the last decade by the once prominent Denver Broncos.
Now, all you Donkey devotees probably feel a little new to this whole losing thing. You’re still going through the Five Fanhood Stages of Grief (anger, anger, embarrassment, false hope and more anger), and take it from someone with life-long losing experience, it doesn’t get any better.
However, you can change how you look at it all. I’m not saying you should go back to trusting that your team will turn it around; it’s just that you can’t lose hope in the idea of one day returning to greatness (or arriving there for the first time).
Let’s give this a try. We’ll take a statement about the Broncos and show how we can take the cynical and turn it into being optimistic.
Cynical: OK, so I may not need to explain this side too much here. Four wins is awful – plain, old Shaq-shooting-freethrows awful. They were last in a bad division and never really looked all that competitive.
Optimistic: Well, being that bad yields a No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, which, unless seriously butchered, produces a strong player who can make an impact right away. Plus, the NFL is so fickle, 4-12 could’ve easily been 8-8 or even 9-7 if a few more breaks bounce the Broncos’ way. And maybe they could next year.
had bigger plays while essentially acting as a fullback this season than as a quarterback. He was the golden boy of a coach who (fans feel) turned Denver’s roster into dust.
Optimistic: The dude wins, and players with the type of attitude and determination Tebow has already shown don’t normally wind up being busts. And it could always be worse: You could be a Panthers’ fan and be forced to watch Jimmy Clausen’s whining and wimpy, wobbly throws that miss receivers by 10 yards.
Cynical: He won one less game over the last two years (10) with Carolina than Josh McDaniels (11) did with the Broncos. While making two NFC title games and one Super Bowl over a decade isn’t too shabby, it won’t be good enough in Denver, especially if he carries over the drastic ups and downs the Panthers had. He certainly isn’t a big-name hire or a proven winner like Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher. And newspapers have already dropped the ball on having a headline of “Fox in the Den house” when he was hired.
Optimistic: He took a very frugal franchise nearly to the top of the sport. He never had elite talent and was still able to transform the Panthers into a viable playoff team. While Gruden and Cowher would’ve been nice, no head coach has ever won Super Bowls with two different franchises. Not ever. And we still have the possibility of many “Out-Foxed” headlines in the future.
I’m sure you don’t feel a whole lot better right now, but keep at it, someday it’ll pay off. I mean, it’s not like a team can keep losing and losing for 100 years or something.
Now that would just be hopeless.
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