Thursday night brought us the annual installment of the NFL’s Crap Burrito, the Titans-Jaguars game that’s splotched over every Thursday Night Football schedule, every single damn year. The NFL does this for two reasons:
1. Every team has to get at least one national viewing window, so might as well get these two garbage scows out of the way early
2. An early season TNF game quarantines these two so they won’t infect any other teams.
If you watched Titans-Jags — and come on, don’t pretend like you didn’t — you saw some terrible football, flailing offenses and ineffective defenses and more flags than a welcome-home-astronauts parade. It was brutal to see. But imagine if you’re a fan of one of these teams, particularly Tennessee. What now?
What do you do when it’s only September and your team is a heaping pile of rotting meat? Whether due to a barren roster (Miami) or unimaginative play-calling (Tennessee) or front-office bumbling (Washington) or you-gotta-be-kidding-me injuries (Jets) or just bone-deep, across-the-board incompetence (Giants), we’ve already got half a dozen teams who are doomed. How do their fans face the next 14 weeks? How do you go on when there’s no point in going on?
To help you survive, we’ve consulted some of the great minds of history to help you through these dark times. Take comfort from those who’ve traveled these dark paths before you, friends.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
This is the strength-through-weakness route. All these losses make you tougher. You know why Patriots fans wail like they’ve gotten stabbed every time they get a single holding call against them? It’s because they’ve grown soft with victory. All those rings sit on fleshy fingers. You, my friend, you’re made of sterner stuff because you pull for a four-win team. Hold onto that.
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
—Vincent Van Gogh
Look. Here’s a secret. There’s no law against rooting for more than one team. You’ve got your favorite, the one you’ve loved since childhood … but why not pick a crew that’s a little more competent over in the other conference? You don’t have to buy their jersey, you don’t have to act like you were always a fan. You can just jump on board a bandwagon and quietly pull for, say, the Chiefs or the Cowboys. Everyone else is doing it, they just won’t admit it.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”
0-16. 28-3. Four straight Super Bowl Ls. The Minnesota and Music City miracles. If you’ve suffered through one of these kinds of backbreaking, soul-wrecking losses, you know that you’ve seen the bottom of the ocean. You know that no matter what, it’ll never get worse than this. (That’s a lie, of course. It can always get worse. But try not to think of how, because one day, it will happen. Just pray it’s not to your team.)
“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”
It’s not actually a requirement to attend a game if you tailgate beforehand; on more than one occasion, I’ve sold my ticket to a game so I could hang out and drink beverages at the tailgate. Socialize your misery, share it amongst friends who also would otherwise be staring at the TV alone in their dens, trying to decide if it’s worth throwing a full beer through the screen. (Truth: sometimes it is.) Life’s always better with a hot grill, a cold beer, and a couple friends, especially friends who light themselves on fire and jump through tables. I think Shakespeare said that.
”Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
Here’s a thought: why not monetize your pain? Why not profit off your long years of watching wretched football? If you know your team is a horrendous snarl of futility, why not turn that to your financial advantage? Set yourself up with an emotional hedge. Bet against your team every week.* Come out of the season with a broken heart but a full wallet. Yeah, we’re pretty sure Oprah wasn’t talking about gambling on pro football there, but that’s the joy of motivational quotes—they can motivate you in unexpected directions.
*-Only in locations where betting is permitted. Yahoo Sports does not endorse illegal gambling in any form. Shame on you for thinking otherwise.
“And one has to understand that braveness is not the absence of fear but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear.”
We get it. You’re not even a quarter of the way into the season, but when you look ahead at the schedule, you see maybe one win on your schedule, and that’s the bye week. You know that your Thanksgiving’s going to be ruined, your Christmas will be a dreary agony, your entire fall and winter a grim slog from week to week. Think of it this way: by the time January rolls around, every Sundays won’t bring fresh suffering. There’s that!
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
Face the torment with grace, my friends, for one day your reward awaits. If you believe that the universe is infinite, then at some point not only will every team in the NFL one day win a Super Bowl, every team will one day go 16-0 and bury its rivals in the cold earth as their fans dance for weeks in transcendent delirium.
Except for Miami. Y’all are screwed for eternity.
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