Here are five ways to ensure that you never feel sports pain in life:
1. Turn off all nerve centers when sporting events are on. See your team after an amazing, practically religious if I took that term to mean something positive, experience follow it up with a result that even the most sadistic writer would not have envisioned and let me know how that goes.
2. Never care in the first place. The sports-agnostic in my life, I admire all the brain space they have where I’m remembering Eddie George’s career high in carries (403).
3. Don’t check live fantasy scores. In the King of the Hill league, I led the best ball from Weeks 2 to 15. Then in Week 16, my 45-point lead evaporated like the ligaments and bone of a couple of potential future franchise quarterbacks.
4. Watch a sports event that you don’t care about, then try to transfer that feeling to football. My father-in-law put basketball on the tube on Sunday, because the NFL conceded the sport on the biggest holiday of the year for some reason. I watched, tried to follow along with the same Twitter reactions that football produced with no context and it was great.
5. Understand that there are real issues in life. Was that too maudlin? I had some friends lose a beloved pet over the holiday, and that pain reminded me of losing two cats in six months and how I was pretty much useless during that time period. With sports, you get to forget that pain, even if the events appear to add to yours. It’s a glorious distraction if you can let it not get to your head too much.
I was in utter shock as the Titans rallied to beat the Kansas City Chiefs last week. I was in a similar feeling, but bad, on Saturday as the Titans failed to show up against a very game Jaguars team. The Titans always get the best out of interim coaches for some reason. The Jags have defensive talent and for a half Blake Bortles forgot that he sucked. I’m not sure if the Titans at their best could have pulled off the win, but this version of the team would have lost to all 31 NFL franchises. For a week they were as bad as the 2015 version, even when Matt Cassel led the offense to a touchdown that cut the lead to 8.
Wait, Matt Cassel? Yeah, that Matt Cassel, a man who might not have an arm of your grandmother after peeling potatoes for an hour. Marcus Mariota rolled out, looked, looked, needed to get rid of the ball and felt the defense coming in on him in time to secure the ball. His ankle was unsecured from his leg, and that was game over for the season.
We kind of felt that the season was over a few other times, like when the defense forced a Chris Ivory fumble and the offense gained nothing, leaving the deficit at two scores. It was an odd day for Jacksonville kicker Jason Myers, who made two 50+-yard field goals like they were extra points and missed two extra points like they were 50-yarders back when they were, you know, hard.
After the second of interest following the TD that cut the lead to 8, the Jags went down the field with little resistance, finishing it out with a trick play when WR Marqise Lee (never forget he was drafted ahead of Allen Robinson) throwing a pass to QB Blake Bortles. Then Cassel’s pop-gun with a strong wind behind it arm was taken advantage of by one Jalen Ramsey. So that’s what an NFL-caliber CB looks like.
The Titans can still salvage a winning record against the division champs (almost puked there) Houston Texans. The Texans survived a last-second field goal miss from former Texan Randy Bullock to win their game and render Week 17 moot. I’d like the Titans to win just so they can say co-division champs and get the winning record but I just shut down my football nerves and I’d rather have a better draft pick.
To pretend that the Titans will have the path to a division title laid out like the yellow brick road in 2017 is folly as well. Bill O’Brien is a wizard, putting together an elite defense without JJ Watt and having a functional offense without a quarterback. The Colts have Andrew Luck and maybe little else. The Jags have a good defense and an early enough 2017 draft pick to start over at QB. Mariota will rehab with fire, I have no doubt of that. The team should make out well with their two first-round picks. They have oodles of cash to help shore up the defensive line, secondary, and guard positions. They had a shot this year. For whatever reason, the team didn’t show up yesterday, although we all assume that if Mariota let go of that ball a second earlier, he would have led a stunning comeback.