Last Sunday, Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden threw one of the ugliest interceptions you’re likely ever to see. This prompted a frustrated fan to post Weeden’s job on Craigslist. Guys named Brandon were the only ones not eligible to apply. You can certainly understand any fan’s dissatisfaction with a team Cleveland comedian Mike Polk referred to as the ” factory of sadness.” Since 1999, the Browns have had a grand total of one playoff appearance, two winning seasons and NINETEEN different quarterbacks. At this point, even fan tributes are a tad jaded. Over the winter, a long-time season ticket holder died and asked in his will if the Browns could be his pallbearers so they could “let him down one last time.” That stuff is all pretty funny. When, however, do fans go too far. Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed? The answer is yes.
I am one of millions of people who play and enjoy fantasy football. I didn’t select Baltimore Ravens runningback Ray Rice on draft day. Plenty of others did. The Ravens are currently the worst rushing team in the NFL. Disgruntled Ray Rice owners took to Twitter to voice their displeasure. They didn’t address the general public but sent their complaints directly to him. Arian Foster and Maurice Jones-Drew received similar Twitter treatment a season ago. And remember all those so called fans who cheered the Matt Schaub leg injury? That was nothing compared to the fans who drove to Schaub’s house to verbally abuse him in person. In response, the Houston Texans increased stadium security and asked fans to please stop burning Matt Schaub jerseys. I’m not sure what else can be done but something’s got to give. That kind of behavior is way out of line.
Football is an aggressive, violent sport. I don’t think anyone would debate that. And once the alcohol and adrenaline start flowing, NFL fans have proven themselves capable of some pretty amazing feats of stupidity. I haven’t attended an NFL game in over a decade. I prefer the comfort, safety and affordability of my own living room. Still, there is something to be said for the unique NFL experience. About twenty years ago, I went to a game in Buffalo. I think it was the Bills and Cowboys. I can’t say for sure and It really doesn’t matter. During the singing of The Star Spangled Banner, some already well lubricated Bills fans started singing O Canada. Beers were thrown, followed by fists and feet, and a general scrum ensued. After that same game, another normally sane individual had boarded his bus to go home. A fight broke out in the parking lot. He obviously couldn’t stand the thought of missing all the fun so he responded in a perfectly appropriate manner, at least appropriate for someone who’d spent his afternoon guzzling Lebatt Blue and watching grown men try to kill each other. He kicked out the bus’s emergency window and jumped into the melee. Something similarly idiotic happened following Sunday’s Jets-Patriots game. No busses or windows were involved but I suspect alcohol played a prominent role. Fans got a little heated. There was some pushing and shoving, and it culminated with a Jets fan punching a woman in the face. Click here if you want to watch the video. Look for the dude in the Wayne Chrebet jersey. Maybe the woman started it. Maybe she said something about his mother. I don’t know and I don’t care. So much is made of the players giving the sport a bad name. You can’t say a whole lot for the fans either.
Before I wrap this up, here’s a trivia question for you. What do the Eagles, Vikings, Buccaneers, Rams, Bills, Browns, Texans, Titans, Jaguars and Raiders all have in common? No, they don’t all stink, although that’s close. Want a hint? It’s a good bet the Bears will soon be added to that list. Those are all teams that, due to injury, either have used or are about to use a different starting quarterback. That’s more than a third of the teams in the league and at least one team from each division. In fact, in the AFC South, the Colts are the only team that hasn’t needed to make a quarterback change. I guess Luck really is on their side. Okay, bad pun. Every defender and most NFL fans will tell you there are too many rules designed to protect the quarterback. I tend to agree but the evidence suggests otherwise. The Bills, Eagles and Browns have already had multiple quarterbacks hurt and we’re only in Week 7.