The NFL Playoffs: A study in poor sportsmanship

* I wrote this piece three years ago after attending the Buccaneers’ first round playoff game against the New York Giants.  Things were different back then.  Jon Gruden roamed the Tampa sidelines, Jeff Garcia was still taking snaps and the Giants were about to become Super Bowl champions.  Since we’re currently in the midst of the NFL playoffs and this post was written P.S.C. (Pre-SportsChump), I thought I’d resurrect the story of how NOT to act at a professional sporting event.  Enjoy.

(Tampa – January 6, 2008)  There’s something to be said for sportsmanship…. just not at a Buccaneers game.

This past Sunday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted the New York GEEEEEEE-Men in the new sombrero. To much of Tampa’s dismay, the Giants came out victorious in this match-up to advance in the NFL playoffs, and eventually win Super Bowl XLII.

On paper, the Giants were the better team and that translated onto the field.  The Giants were underdogs that game, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who took the Bucs and laid the points.  If they played that game again, the Giants would have won it again.

I had the pleasure of attending this game with a life-long friend, who happens to be a Giants fan born and bred.  We hadn’t seen each other for a while and had talked about him flying down for the contest.  Come game time, Jason was decked out in full Giants regalia, rockin’ the Strahan jersey with more Giants gear layered underneath.

Since we’re like brothers, and by kick-off quite whiskey-laden, he and I were trash-talking back and forth all morning.  When the Bucs got off to a fast start, I heckled him, and Eli, mercilessly.  But as the Bucs’ hopes started to fade later in the game, the Giants fans in the stadium became progressively louder.

Now sure, we were being a touch rowdy (after all, this was an NFL playoff game), but trust me, my friend is from New Jersey and I have seen him WAY more obnoxious…. which brings me to my point.

After the Giants won, Jason went down to the front rows to celebrate with other Giants fans after their victory.  The guy seated to his left, who sported a John Lynch jersey (no longer on the Bucs, mind you), looked at me and said in total seriousness “I can’t believe you!  You call yourself a Bucs fan?”

I looked at him in amazement, wondering what in the world he was talking about.  I hadn’t spoken a word to this guy all game.  He then asked how I could bring a Giants fan to a Buccaneers playoff game.  As if the Bucs’ inadequate offense was a direct correlation to my friend’s seat assignment.  Huh?  Did I miss something?  I asked him what he was talking about, telling him that J and I grew up together.

“Yeah, but your boy was obnoxious,” he went on, bowing up to me.  Now I was about a pint and a half of whiskey in and was hardly about to back down to this putz.  I told him to look around as there were at least 10,000 other obnoxious Giant fans around.  They’re Giants fans… that’s what they do.

“Yeah, but you encouraged him.”  I told that bonehead that J’s a friend and I was merely congratulating him on his victory.  I’ll be darned if I’m going to let some stranger mess with my family, or my character.

I mean, you’ve got to me kidding me.  We’re all avid sports fans but…. this is a game we’re talking about, right?  Is there something wrong with congratulating a friend, an opponent, or someone you don’t even know on a hard-fought victory??

The guy continued on, but I kept my senses and wasn’t about to stoop to his level.  When I met Jason in the aisle later on, he couldn’t believe it, laughing and telling me “Are you kidding me??  That guy was from Jersey!!”

So there you have it.  Another episode of fan-hood gone horribly wrong.  Let’s keep things in perspective here.  Players shake hands with one another post-game to celebrate competition and fair play.  Sport exists to remind us what truly matters… sportsmanship and courtesy, not resentment or bitterness.

The next time your team loses and you’re among strangers, try elevating YOUR game and recognize that you’re among fellow human beings with family and friends.  You might just turn your loss into a well-earned victory.

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28 Replies to “The NFL Playoffs: A study in poor sportsmanship”

  1. Chris

    Isn’t it par for the course for sports fans in NYC to be obnoxious ? But then again if you happen to be a Mets’ or Bills’ fan can you be anything but obnoxious ?

    Wasn’t that the beginning of the end for the relationship between Gruden and Garcia ? After that things went from bad to simply ….’ sh_ t I’m not talking to you anymore ‘ !


    tophatal ………….. 😛

  2. Mets fans have (fortunately) gone into submission, Al. They haven’t had anything to cheer about other than their own misfortune for the last few years. I think they’re still shell shocked over their recent collapses.

    Gruden was rough on his quarterbacks, as we both know. I’m wondering if he doesn’t sit another season out and stay in the booth. I haven’t heard his name mentioned in any rumors lately and it seems like most of the college and pro jobs are being filled without Chuckie mention.

  3. “Sports exists to remind us what truly matters… sportsmanship and courtesy”

    I’m laughing inside, Chump.

    But seriously, I think we can all agree that the vast majority of sports fans (and humans in general) are, for lack of a better word, stupid.

    Drinking doesn’t help.

    Haven’t been to a pro football game in roughly a decade, but I did spend a fair portion of my formative years in the Orange Bowl… Let’s just say, FSU-Miami/any night game doesn’t bring out the best in people. I’ve on the not-so-rare occasion been afraid for my actual well-being.

    Dropping the “it’s just sports” card feels a little underhanded for people who, you know, actually love sports (i.e. you/me).

    But yeah, it’s just sports.

  4. Funny you called me out on that, Fro.

    Another buddy called this piece one of my rare kumbaya moments.

    I would imagine FSU-Miami in the Orange Bowl back in the day came dangerously close to a Red Sox-Yankees game.

    I have no problem with creative heckling but there’s a fine line between razzing and stupidity.

    Or maybe it’s just naive of me to assume others can hold their liquor like I do.

  5. Nice repost Chris. I love going to games with a friend that roots for the opposite team that I am. It makes it more fun. It enhances the experience. I think the best compliment someone can give me when I’m in the stands is a shut the F*** up from the other teams fans! I agree with you some people take it too far. It’s only a game no matter how much a loss hurts. The players get over it quickly, so you should too…

  6. Chapperoo…

    As much as we love sports, I think we sometimes have a tendency to take things a little too seriously.

    Take South American or European soccer games for example. Is there really a need to beat someone you don’t know to a bloody pulp because of a regional rivalry? Ok, so maybe there is, but that’s beside the point.

    Have you wished your boy, Al, a happy birthday today?

  7. Sportsmanship and courtesy? Perhaps, but there also isn’t anything wrong with a little bravado and honesty once in a while. Guys like Rex Ryan and Antonio Cromartie are great for the NFL. We just need more of them.

  8. Chris

    Well now that Minaya and Manuel are gone and Alderson , De Podesta and Ricciardi are in . I can see that there’ll now be more egos in the Mets’ front office than there is on the field !


  9. Chris

    Age is nothing but a number and I still feel like 21 year old . Problem being is ………… the body most 21 year old females aren’t inclined to mix it up with an ol’ fart like me ! So I guess that leaves to mess about with those aged between 30 and upwards . …….. halting point being 40 !

    tophatal ………………..

  10. Drew…

    Every walk of life needs characters. If not, this planet would be a boring place to live.

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with Ryan spouting off at the mic every so often. It makes for great television. I’m not so sure I understand why he’d want to get a team like the Patriots riled up. I guess he’s just trying to take the extra media attention off his team and on to him.

    If that works, he’s a genius. If it doesn’t, well, they go home for the summer.

  11. Al…

    I hadn’t quite heard the comments of Cromartie but I’m assuming he was just following along the lines of his coach.

    Didn’t he say something about Brady? I sure do hope these guys can back up all their talk.

  12. I know the Rays are having a fire sale but they’re now throwing out the bath water and kitchen sink as well ? Rafael Soriano to the Yankees at 3 yrs and $35 mil ? What next from Friedman ?

  13. Chris

    LT is also now my hero (dumb a*s) …….. as only he can now come up …. your honor I thought she was 16 . Six years probation and being registered as a sex offender …… he should consider himself extremely lucky.

    tophatal ……….. 😉

  14. Chris

    The Mets are good for baseball as where else can you have a laugh at a New Yorker’s expense ? I know that Bloomberg believes that building Citi Field ($750 million) was a sound investment but only if you’re going there for a rock concert ’cause anything purported to being played as baseball simply has been nothing but a joke for the last five years at least .

    tophatal ………….

  15. Chris

    What’s the over and under that LT lands in more trouble ? In six months . to a year ?

    Broncos Elvis Dumervil has problems of his own stemming from domestic violence . And how ’bout Goodell’s awkward stance concerning the Colts’ defensive player and the alleged sexual assault charges that are pending ? How comes no conduct detrimental to the image of the game and a suspension ? The NFL has more than image problem it’s commissioner a simpleton and oaf !

    So LeBron’s tweet wasn’t him but quite possibly one of his posse ? Well that figures ! His lame a_s won’t accept the responsibility for anything at this juncture ! Karma is a bit_h and the payback was rewarded in the beatdown the Heat received at the hands of the Clippers and Nuggets .

    There’s No Trouble In Paradise It’s Simply A Hiccup That’s All

    tophatal ……….

  16. Al…

    We knew the Rays weren’t going to be able to afford Soriano.

    Personally, I think 13 mil a year is a bit much to pay for a set-up man. Perhaps they’re grooming him as Rivera’s replacement?

  17. The Mets will still draw, Al, not matter how bad they are.

    They’re no Clippers and they have a deeper, richer history in their city than do the Clippers, but it’s a sad state of affairs that I’m even comparing the two.

    That being said, it’s still fun to talk about how much they suck.

  18. And finally, Al, if LT lands himself in any more trouble any time soon, I find it difficult to believe that any judge will go easy on him.

    Looking forward to reading your LeBron Tweet piece. I’m working on something along those lines myself.

  19. ya i agree, but when ppl are drunk they do what they want……You where right for sticking up for your friend, way to stick up for your self!

  20. Ru…

    Your Bears are looking awfully good right about now. I’d ask you who ya’ got this weekend but I think I already know the answer to that question.

  21. Chris

    Take it easy on Cam as his father and I have an upcoming business arrangement . I’ll be assisting with some offshore investments as it relates to Cam’s future earnings .

    tophatal ………

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