Sunday, January 23rd, 2011, 3:01 pm
If one looks at today’s Jets-Steelers AFC title game it would appear that, karmically speaking, this one will go to the Jets. They are this year’s Team of Destiny, the six-seed who went on the road and sent Peyton Manning and Tom Brady home early. They’ve recovered from a humiliating prime-time blowout to regain their swagger. They predicted on the HBO show Hard Knocks that they would win the Super Bowl and here they are, once again one win away from the big game. Add the fact that quarterback Mark Sanchez is in his second season and that Ben Roethlisberger and Brady both won Super Bowls in their second years and you have a compelling case for the Jets to win this game.
If, of course, you ignore reality and just go with the ethereal nonsense that rattles around in the brains of idiot sports fans like myself. I am usually a rational, pragmatic person. But when it comes to sports I am practically a voodoo shaman. I won’t wash my jersey after a win, I (usually) don’t drink during games, I ruthlessly analyze almost everything I do during a game to determine if the action will help or hinder my team. While watching my favorite sports teams I quite literally become temporarily insane.
As do millions of other fanatics. I’m cool with my fleeting mental illness, I’ve come to terms with it. I actually enjoy it, as it makes me feel that I actually have some control over the proceedings unfolding on the screen before me. But I’m not so far gone as to know, in my heart of hearts, that I don’t. Last week I had a few beers after halftime when all looked bleak for the Steelers–they won. This week we won’t be watching the game at Mark’s house, as he’s on vacation, so we’re going to a friend’s house where we watched the pens lose the Winter Classic. This seems like a classic karmic mistake…but what if their house is only bad luck for the Penguins? What if it’s only bad luck for regular season games and is in fact holy ground when it comes to truly important contests?
What if, what if, what if. What I do know, in this calm before the storm, is that it doesn’t matter if the Jets are a team of destiny, or if it’s rare for a team to lose 2 conference title games in a row, or that they’re due for a huge win while the Steelers have spoiled us the last 15 years. If you’ll allow me a poker metaphor, just as the cards don’t care who they’re dealt to, the games are contested by the players on the field, not by the ghosts of days gone by. The game will be won by the team who plays the best today, and destiny and karma and predestination has nothing to do with it. Every game is it’s own separate universe, and in a bit we’ll all get to find out what happens.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to put on my Polamalu jersey (unwashed in months), get my Terrible Towel (the one I twirled during that legendary comeback playoff win against the Browns) and pick out a spot by the TV that seems to have the most in-tune vibrations coursing through it.
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