I was in Orlando, FL yesterday as I took in about 3/4 of the Texans/Ravens game. Duty called as my stepdaughter was competing in UDA Nationals for Cal State Fullerton. They won their 11th national title in Division 1 Jazz Dance. What, you don't think I can tie dance and football together? Keep reading. They are a cohesive team consisting of 16 total members. They "start" 10 freshmen who have never appeared on the big stage before. This is the showcase that ESPN airs in the spring. This is the March Madness of Dance. This is the BCS of Dance. These national titles are recognized in Titan Gym on campus at Fullerton. If your daughter (or son) dances for a top-tier university, they want to be on ESPN's recap of the competition. In essence, you have arrived as a dancer collegiately if this can be realized. The girls have practiced tirelessly for about two months. Rehearsing the same routine over and over again. Striving for perfection. They sacrificed partying with their sorority friends to accomplish the goal that they set for themselves this past spring when the team was formed. There are no perfect dances, mind you. Fullerton scored 95/100, to obliterate their closest competitor by more than three points. This is a VERY large margin of victory in the dance competition world. So, where am I going with all of this? Follow along...
Before we proceed any further, please click this link and view this video. It is only two minutes long and you will be better for it. Trust me. In the new window you will need to click "Jazz 2012" and then click "Cal State University-Fullerton." Now, what you will notice is throughout this routine, there are instances where the girls are each performing different responsibilities at the same time. There are four girls who perform a quadruple pirouette into a double leg-hold turn. For the dance vocabulary challenged: they are standing on one leg and holding the other straight up into the air while turning a circle two times after they have previously turned four times prior to the one leg being raised into the air. Seems complicated. They are tremendous athletes. I bring all of this up for one simple reason: had one of the girls fallen out of her turn, or had another girl dropped a stunt, would the fan base pointed the finger at her? In short, absolutely not. They win as a team and they lose as a team.
Sadly, NFL fans need a scapegoat when their team underperforms. Oh, they will cry how they are emotionally invested in the team. Um, more so than a parent of a competitor? Surely you jest. No, fans of teams, with the assistance of social media platforms, epitomize pretty much everything that would embarrass the actual participants on the field. The anonymity of the online cyber world brings the word "asshat" to a new level of the stratosphere. It was on full display yesterday. When Jacoby Jones muffed the punt that provided an ill-timed momentum swing for the offensively hapless Ravens, like the rest of you, I was very disappointed. Even a bit angry. But, my anger was quickly replaced with compassion. It is not like Jacoby took the field and decided he was going to commit a blunder in the most important game of the season. He made an error. Not even a Bill Buckner class error, mind you. It was an error in the first 5 minutes of a game that the Texans were still good enough to win. Yet, if you perused Twitter after the conclusion of the game, you'd think Jacoby was on the take, having bet his entire net worth on the Texans losing. Death threats. Harmful verbal insults. Wishing hideous diseases upon him. Basically, some of our fan base demonstrated the behavior we all teach our children not to exhibit.
What an embarrassment so many of them were to our beloved city. Moreover, just where in the hell are the priorities for this gaggle of quintessential deebags? He made a mistake. Should he have fielded the punt? No. Did he lose the game for the Texans? Absolutely not. The offense could not muster more than 13 points. The defense, while it played very well, could not convert on any turnover opportunities. That is just how the ball bounces at times. T.J. Yates might as well have told the Ravens defenders that he was going to be targeting Andre Johnson with nearly half of his passing attempts. It is as if the secondary and linebackers knew where TJ was going with the ball. Rookie mistakes that helped contribute to a loss. Say, what about those three games the Texans sort of phoned in after clinching their division? Sure would have been nice to host this game yesterday rather than head to the 225 Pasadena corridor of the Northeast, also known as Baltimore. Yet, all I read and heard was how Jacoby Jones cost "us" the game. Us. The fans. OK, I got it. You are just passionate for your team. Passion to the point of crossing every line that would be the border between frustration and utter and complete drunken, frat boy behavior.
A player should never be made to feel as if he needs protection venturing out into the city in which he lives and works. Yet, I am certain that is how Jacoby felt when some of these things were shared with him. Can't listen to the radio. Can't read the newspaper (looking at you Jerome Solomon). Can't get on Twitter, facebook, or any other "fan venting zone." Nope. All he can do is try to do better next time. For five years, Jones has been the returner for the Texans. Nobody has beat him out. Coach Gary Kubiak has not replaced him. Yet, somehow it was his fault that the Texans lost yesterday. How convenient for a playoff starved fan base. Many of you all need to act like you have been there before. Rockets, Astros, Oilers. Each brought us much joy and sorrow. This is nothing new for the city of Houston. Growing pains is what this is. The future is bright for the Texans. Even with Jacoby returning punts in 2012 and beyond.