I am not a rabid fan of the sport, but I do enjoy catching the occasional NFL game. Yet while I no longer have a team to pull for (the San Diego Chargers abdicated that position), the two teams that play nearby seem to be doing all they can to NOT draw me into their fandom. The Raiders, well, they’re the Raiders*, and also they are leaving town in a couple of years. No point jumping on that wagon, even if they might do well this year.
Then there’s the 49ers. I didn’t watch the game today, but I monitored its progress now and then. I saw one sequence that sent me the clear message: “we don’t like our fans.”
The Niners were behind 23-0, well into the 4th quarter. (For those not up on the jargon, time was running out, and they were getting their asses kicked.) They moved the ball downfield through steady performance only to come up 4th-and-one deep in enemy territory. (It’s late, but for the moment at least, they are not sucking — but it’s time to make a big decision.) The game is essentially over, but there’s a chance to make some noise. One yard? It’s actually the kind of thing their steady-but-not-flashy quarterback is pretty good at. Yet rather than go for it and perhaps spark a great comeback, the coaches take the safe route, wave the white flag, and kick a field goal so at least they don’t have a zero on the scoreboard. Now they’re only down by 20 points!
Fine, whatever, you’re cowards. Better luck next week.
But then, THEN, when the other team had the ball, the Niners called time out.
You have already surrendered! Why are you doing this? If you thought there was any hope, you would have tried to score a touchdown on your previous possession. Why are you wasting everyone’s time prolonging a game you have no intention of trying to win? Why do you hate us so much? That part of the game is called “garbage time” for a reason.
The rule change: When a team attempts a field goal when they are losing by more than the minutes remaining times four, they forfeit all their remaining timeouts, and spiked balls are intentional grounding (which they should be anyway). Additionally, the other team cannot use its timeouts unless the score narrows to less than that margin. Let’s just get this thing over with. We’ll call it the “surrender rule.” Or perhaps, the “show the fans a little respect” rule.
* The Raiders are just another football team. I don’t dislike the team as much as I dislike the fans. In fact, there are a few players on the Raiders who quietly make a huge positive impact on their community, and I respect them tremendously. And to be honest the fans in Oakland are working hard to remove the stigma of violence that surrounds them, while still being hardcore fans. What I really hate are the Raider fans in Los Angeles. I hate them a lot. But “The Night I Put a Curse on the Raiders” is a San Diego Super Bowl story for another day. (For the record, I formally lifted the curse at the start of last season.)