Monday, November 16, 2009

Type-casting teams

It's been FAR too long, but I think I have a great excuse this time... my little girl who was born June 24. All is well with her and I, and I'm back to writing a sports column each week, so I'll keep y'all updated as I do so.


Type-casting teams (ran 10/22)

In life, there are the blessed, the cursed, the lazy and the hard-working.

It is the same in sports.

There are those teams blessed with talent – the teams that can do no wrong; then, on the opposite side, there is the team that can do no right – the blooper never drops in, the hole in the defense never opens.

Some can overcome lack of talent or a lower payroll with a four letter word: T-E-A-M. When a group of athletes plays together as one cohesive unit, there is no limit to the heights they can achieve.

There are those teams that exceed our expectations (this year’s Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings), and those teams that have all of the talent in the world, but can’t do anything with it (I'm talking to you, Tennessee Titans).

After Sunday’s NFL games, I’d like to discuss three kinds of teams: The lucky, the loveable losers, and the underachievers.

Type one: the lucky

Luck-y – adjective. Having or marked by good luck; fortunate.

If you watched the Vikings game yesterday, "luck" is probably one of the first words that came to mind.

It seemed like Minnesota had the game wrapped up, but then Baltimore made a 17-point comeback. With two seconds left in the game, Ravens’ kicker Steven Hauschka lined up for a 44-yard field goal… and it sailed left to give the Vikes the win.

If you play for a lucky team, you always recover the clutch fumble, or the other team’s kicked always misses the game-winning field goal.

So far this year Minnesota, despite having a hasn’t-even-hit-his-prime Adrian Peterson and at-the-top-of-his-career Jared Allen, has relied heavily on luck. Even the fact that a 40-year-old Brett Favre is playing as well as he is seems lucky for the Vikings.

Type two: the lovable losers

Los-er – noun. A person, team, thing, etc., that loses.

Every person loves their team, but sometimes they just don’t have "it."

They’re like the Bad News Bears, or the 2009 St. Louis Rams – no matter what they do, they just can’t win.

They don’t really have the talent, and they don’t have the necessary experience, or they have "too much" experience (i.e. old guys), and those three things put together add up to an oh-and-whatever season.

But sometimes, for the team that you thought was the lovable losers, it finally comes together: the defense starts blocking, players start making hits, and holes start opening for the runners. Then, suddenly, they aren’t the lovable losers, but the overachievers. That’s when it’s fun.

Unfortunately, St. Louis fans, I don’t see that happening for your guys this season. Sorry.

Type three: the underachievers

Un-der-a-cheive-er – noun. A person or thing that performers below expectations.

The worst of all of the teams - the underachieving team has all of the talent in the world, but can’t seem to get it together.

This team has the all-star lineup, the high payroll; maybe they had a great season last year. But when it comes to playing as a team … well, let’s just say that, sometimes, there is an ‘I’ in team - but it’s not a very good team.

This is the team that, after a loss, can’t believe they were beaten by a team that seemed inferior.
The best example of this is the Tennessee Titans.

Last year they were 12-0 at one point. They have most everyone back (minus Albert Haynesworth), LenDale White came back looking like a real tailback and not a regular at the all-you-can-eat buffet, and Chris Johnson is playing great football, but they just can’t seem to put it together this season.

Sunday, they put up a big ol' goose egg on the scoreboard, gave up 59 points to New England. It was pathetic to watch, and there is nothing I hate more than a team who gives up.

Everyone thought Tennessee would be good – very good even – but instead, they are essentially out of any playoff contention, and need to go back to the drawing board for next season, mainly finding out who the real Vince Young is (let’s hope it’s the 2007 version, and not 2008), and maybe even re-evaluating the future of Jeff Fisher.

But no matter what type your team is, lucky, loveable losers, underachieving, unstoppable, or just plain bad, keep rooting them on, because the only thing worse than a bad team is a fair-weather fan.

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