This one goes out to my die hard sports fans out there.
We all have those teams or players out there that no matter what they do or how they perform, we will idolize them. I have a friend who, I’m pretty sure, would still love Peyton Manning if the former QB defecated on his front porch and flipped him the bird. In fact, my buddy would probably put the turd in a display case and tell you it is “The Best Fudge Monkey in NFL History.”
I mean look at the worship of Tom Brady in New England even though the future Hall of Famer abandoned the team in its weakest moment.
But, sometimes sports fans are blinded by their own fandom. We see this with the recent retirement of Julian Edelman in New England.
Don’t get me wrong here, Edelman was a fantastic player. Perhaps one of the most clutch receivers to ever play the game. The guy was tough as nails and played the game with such an underdog attitude. Edelman was a folk hero here in New England. As he should’ve been. He made one of the most ridiculous catches I’ve ever seen in the comeback victory over the Falcons in the Super Bowl. Even the Patriots fans I was watching that game with insisted he didn’t catch that pass.
When Edelman announced that he was retiring from the Patriots, you would’ve thought the guy was a war hero. The worship of the guy was disgusting. Even “media” members were falling apart and basically weeping on social media. Former mediocre Pats backup QB and current obnoxious color commentator for the Patriots radio broadcast Scott Zolak fell right into this category. This was his tweet: “Thank you @Edelman11 for EVERYTHING. HEART & BALLS. Hope you get to end it on your terms.” I mean come on. Thanking an athlete for doing his job is a bit much don’t you think. And Zo, don’t you think having to retire due to injury isn’t really ending on your terms?
That’s to be expected though. Zolak is playing to his base. The people that follow him are your run of the mill homer fans. They root for the home team simply because of where they were born and that’s their squad. Zolak isn’t a true analyst either. He’s a fan. Which is fine.
Being a non-local team fan in New England has definitely accentuated my awareness of the homer phenomenon. For years, I struggled to listen to all these Pats shrieking “In Bill We Trust!” and fawning over Tom Brady. It was disturbing to say the least.
After Edelman’s announcement, I kept reading that he should be a 1st ballot Hall of Famer. Come on now. He was good, but he wasn’t even the best slot receiver of the Brady era. That crown goes to Wes Welker. His numbers were just better. Edelman did it longer and got some Super Bowls, but Welker burned brighter. Not to mention he did it elsewhere as well. Edelman had the distinct advantage of having the best QB in the history of the game.
It’s hard for such dedicated fans to take a step back and really analyze a player. Those of us who are living in hostile territory are honestly the best judges of our local teams players. Not only are we forced to watch all of the team’s games, we are as objective as it gets. When I watch the Pats vs. the Dolphins in early September, I have no dog in that fight. I can just watch it for what it is. That is something that homerism destroys.
I know a lot of my Patriot fan friends are going to come after me for this one. That’s ok. Take out the frustration of your team being garbage on me. Better me than your wife or kids who really don’t deserve it. But, when push comes to shove, Edelman is not going to end up in Canton. A good consolation prize for any team is the ability to pick their own team Hall of Famers. Jules, as they call him, is a guaranteed Patriots Hall of Famer. So y’all can take that and just be happy.