Ah, new football season, how I adore thee. It's a chance to start fresh again. All the muffed punts and missed passes of the previous year have been wiped clean, leaving me with the wide-eyed anticipation of a new and beautiful season--only to have it brutally cleaved out of my chest cavity after the very first game of the season!
That's how opening week was for us New York Giants fans, anyway--the butchering of a dream.
I say this not because I'm a negative person, nor a Chicken Little type. I say it because the Giants actually suck and the sky really is falling. For starters, they allowed the second most wretched team in football--a team whose name I shall not mention but rhymes with Mallas Plowboys--to stomp all over their defense. They lost several key starters to injury and their schedule is brutal this year, all of which can mean only one thing: The New York football Giants are destined to finish under .500 for the season.
Oh, Jesus, ugh.
Is there anything worse than being under .500? Whether it's the NFL or Sunday C-league softball, when your team plays under-.500 ball, it means that you are nothing more than fodder for the over .500 teams. Your sole existence is to be the chum in the water of their feeding frenzy and you really are better off dead than under .500.
Which brings me to the reason for this column.
I was sitting on the toilet reading Sports Illustrated, my buttocks still smarting from last Sunday's flogging by the Phallus Houseboys, when I came across a Chargers' scouting report. The writer was going on and on about how fast, how smart, how strong the Chargers are, and what great role models they make given that all the players volunteer at children's hospitals and are collectively working on a cure for poverty--and all I kept thinking was, Man, wouldn't it be great to have a team like the Chargers to root for? Doesn't it just totally add to your quality of life when your team is on top? Isn't there an extra zip in your step? Indeed, all of San Diego is reverberating with enthusiasm and has become a full-blown howboutem town.
What is that you ask? A howboutem town is a town whose home team is playing so well that everyone walks around saying 'How 'bout 'em' to each other.
'How 'bout them Chargers,' you say to the cashier at the 7-Eleven when you're buying a Big Gulp.
'Howboutem!' he chirps back.
It's that way all across the city. Even people who normally regard each other with contempt are suddenly chatting it up with Chargers optimism: Liberals and conservatives, tweakers and stoners, the righteous and the godless are suddenly all talking to each other in the streets and stores of San Diego. I wouldn't be surprised if out there somewhere right now a criminal is hogtied in the backseat of a police cruiser having a howboutem conversation with the cop who's driving him to booking:
Criminal: How 'bout them Chargers, officer?
Criminal: By the way, it was really impressive how you tackled me out there, almost as good as a Merriman sack.
Cop: Thanks! And you were really fast and elusive, very L.T.-like.
Yes, indeed, it is good to be a Chargers fan in San Diego right now. And sitting there on the can, waxing pessimistic about the future of the Giants, I thought, Hey wait a minute now. Why can't I just be a Chargers fan, too?
It was a revelation. I've lived here for more than 20 years and never even thought of becoming a Chargers fan. I've always been a one-team-per-sport kind of guy, viewing anyone who rooted for multiple teams with contempt, especially those so-called fans who boast a dozen or so favorite teams--in the same division--from cities they've never been to. This is an offense against NFL fan bylaws and should be prosecuted to the fullest. But two favorite teams, in different conferences, in my respective hometowns? I should be able to do that.
Oh sure, there will be resistance. My Giants-fan friends back in New York will accuse me of going 'California' on them. They'll tell me to lay off the local tap water, and they'll rage against how I could even consider rooting for anyone named L.T. who isn't Lawrence Taylor, the Giants' former crackhead linebacker of death.
And many diehard Chargers fans will certainly accuse me of being a bandwagoner. Not that I blame them. I am coming aboard at a convenient time. But I don't consider myself a true bandwagoner. A true bandwagon fan not only jumps on the bandwagon when a team is doing well, but then jumps off when they plummet, which is something I would never, could never, do (and why I will never abandon my beloved Giants).
Of course, Bolts fans have no reason to believe this. I haven't earned any fan equity yet. From where you're sitting, it just looks like I'm trying to--excuse the pun--steal your thunder. Fair enough. All I ask is that you reserve judgment until after you see how I comport myself as a fan and whether or not I keep my promises.
For instance, as a newly christened Chargers fan, I promise to defend my team's honor against all shit-talkers foreign and domestic.
I promise to buy no less than two items of Chargers schwag (probably a baseball cap and a Charger Girls calendar--you know, to show support).
I promise to loathe, to the very core of my being, the football team whose name shall not be mentioned but sounds like the Loakland Faiders.
I promise to try--really try--to love the Chargers fight song, even though it's quite femme and more likely to inspire the Charger Girls than the warriors on the grid.
Finally, I promise to never jump off the Chargers bandwagon, no matter how crappy they become, or weak, or slow, or indifferent toward the sick kids.
So, there you have it--my credo as a new fan. I hope you find it acceptable. And I hope you dieharders won't take offense when I say out loud and in public for everyone to hear, 'How 'bout them Chargers, people! Howboutem!'
Write to email@example.com., and visit the newly remodeled www.edwindecker.com.