Being a St. Louis Rams fan and excitedly readying yourself for yet another NFL season filled to the brim with high hopes and illusions of grandeur is like being in a relationship with a girl for years of your life who leads you on with lifelong promises of faithfulness, honesty, absolute commitment and offspring with [a] specific name(s), and then, without warning, cruelly and callously pulls the wool over your eyes and betrays you in devastating fashion.
You might think I’m being darkly humorous or facetious, but no. That is exactly how it’s like. This team pisses me off with its yearly teasing. But I’ll continue watching (because apparently I’m a damn masochist, which also might explain my affinity for spicy foods and crazy –… I’ll stop right there).
This is different than being a Boston Celtics fan throughout the majority of my life, as I was always coaxed into what to expect — until the glorious season that was 2007-2008 — and I was devoid of any hype or fantasy-derived expectations. The 2001-2002 team made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but I had no hope in them ever heading to the Finals, because the New Jersey Nets team they faced featured a hungry head coach in Byron Scott, the best point guard in the league at the time (Jason Kidd, who’s, ah, proving himself to be an awfully deceptive dickhead as a man and head coach), an athletic phenom in Richard Jefferson, a solid swingman in Kerry Kittles and a second year beast of a power forward in Kenyon Martin. I was used to mediocrity and cheap teams by that point. And now I’m back to those same expectations these days. But I digress. I promise. I also apologize for turning this into a Celtics rant. Actually, not really.
(Note: if that’s how it’s like, I don’t even want to know how Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills fans alike describe their tenure as fans and what it’s like. Good god.)
The Rams’ defense is young and they look ruthless and ready to go. But the offense is hindered by question marks, with Sam Bradford being up front in the litany of questions surrounding how in the hell he’ll play, but it comes down to this: either he’ll step up and prove the detractors and doubters wrong or he’ll underperform and the Rams will inevitably look in a different direction at quarterback.
I’m not too concerned with offensive weapons anymore. Stars are born every year. It’s just a matter of time for someone to step up. I’m more locked in on how the 11-man unit as a whole is going to cohesively mesh and perform like a well oiled machine.
This team has its work cut out for them, yet again, for another season. I’m going to go ahead and allow myself to become hyped up, but only because I want to watch a winning pro football team again so badly. I haven’t watched one since January 2005, and even then that team was 8-8, despite winning a playoff game against a team they ultimately defeated three times in one season (the Seattle “droppin’ balls” Seahawks, which was that particular franchise’s Troy Sparks-dubbed moniker back then).
Again, I’m excited, and the hype is tempting to believe in (speaking of temptations, Oscar Wilde said the best way to deal with them was to “yield to them”, but after delving balls deep into the Rams’ hype train year after year, I’ve done enough yielding and I just want to cut some people off at this point), but the San Francisco 49ers and defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks are the class of the NFL, let alone the NFC West, and the Arizona Cardinals are no slouches either.
What’s debilitating to a fan’s hopes is that this Rams team would have probably won the division in 2007-2010 (definitely 2010), but it’s 2014 and the division went from being the butt of all jokes in the aforementioned time frame to being the undisputed best in all of pro football. Damn you, football gods! Damn you!
The shining beacon of light in all of this is that this team is young and has a broad window. They’ll be fun to watch, even if they go 7-9 or 10-6. (Holy hell, I’m pining for the latter. I’m a thirsty fan. The bad news: going 10-6 not being enough in the NFC West.)