Shutdown Corner - NFL

I always thought professional sports rivalries were something that existed in the minds of fans, and nowhere else, really. I didn't think that the players, mercenaries that they are, really cared about beating a rival, beyond the win it gives them in the standings.

Jason Taylor doesn't fit into that category, though. The longtime Dolphin (who could soon be a Dolphin again) would really, really have a problem playing for the New York Jets.

"It'd be very, very, very difficult. Very difficult," Taylor said "But at the end of the day, if you can't find a job anywhere else and the Jets call, I guess you've got to retire or go play."

How about that? It probably feels good to hear that if you're a Dolphins fan. Knowing that a player actively hates the Jets, just like you do, has to strengthen the bond between fan and team. That was one of the reasons I always liked Marty Schottenheimer as coach of the Chargers. I hated the Raiders. He hated the Raiders. I thought we should be friends.

But I thought that sort of thing was rare. In high school or college, it's easier to believe it exists. The guys are younger, impressionable, and more idealistic. If their coaches or fans and families told them that playing for Team X meant they had to hate Team Y, they'd probably go for it.

With the professionals, though, I'd think that once a fellow went through the draft process, maybe switched teams a couple of teams, realized that it's all a show, that everything's about money and that your own employer would cut off his right leg if they thought it would save them cap room, that the magic would sort of wear off.

These guys have been to the puppet show, and they've seen the strings. They realize that all teams are, in many ways, exactly the same. Ask your average Cowboys fan what he thinks of the Redskins, and he might say something about hoping they all die in a fiery train crash. But I seriously doubt that, for example, Terrell Owens, stayed up late at night contemplating his deep hatred for burgundy and gold.

I guess it's good to know that that hatred still exists. Thank you, Jason Taylor, for restoring a little bit of my faith that the highly paid football players of this world are capable of irrational hatred. It makes a guy feel good.

Pictured shirt available at CafePress.

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