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Volume 4, Number 7
July, 1999

Fun & Games
A Fan is Born, Part I

By Dean Shutt

Hey folks and welcome to Fun & Games. It's July and we all know what that means, the NFLis back for another season and life has meaning once again. This year is going to be a little different for me and my stablemate in the Sports Section though. This season Dave and I are going to try open defiance of the football Gods in the hopes that it will break the spell they have had on our respective teams for so long. Dave is a Raiders fan and things have been bad for him lately. He's gone a long time without a playoff berth and even longer without a legitimate starting Quarterback (please don t claim that Jeff George is a starting QB, you ll just show your ignorance). You all know that I am a Colts fan and even though things have been looking up as of late, we are coming off of back-to-back 3 and 13 seasons. So basically, Dave and I decided that it was time for something radical, we decided to swap teams.

It all started last season during yet another Raiders come from ahead defeat that Dave turned tome and said that he just couldn't take it anymore. I felt his pain and I knew exactly what he was going through. I also knew that just giving up on his Raiders was not the answer to his problems. Lord knows I d tried to escape the hell of my football allegiance and it had caused me nothing but pain. When you are a football fan, you are a fan of your team for good or ill and there is no getting out of it. You are at the mercy of the football Gods and sometimes they just feel the need to torture you.

Still and all, we figured there had to be a way out of this predicament. After all, no one wasmore attuned to the whims of the Football Gods than Dave and I. We are the High Priests of football worship and if anyone could figure out an angle to get around our problem it would be us. Sure enough, after a few more beers we hit upon the brilliant plan to outfox the Football Gods by not abandoning our teams outright, which we have found to be ineffective, but to merely trade teams for a season. Dave would become a Colts fan, I would follow the Raiders. The reasoning being that the Football Gods would be momentarily taken aback and both of our teams would have a chance to break their respective curses. Was it logical? Was it intelligent? I don't know. I do know that we have tried logic and intelligence and neither has done squat for us in the past. Perhaps it is time for outright goofiness. Besides, it is tough for an NFL team to do a whole lot worse than 3 and 13, so what do I have to lose?

We agreed that we would make the official switch on the High Holy Day of football worship,Super Bowl Sunday. At this point Andy chimed in and said that we wouldn't make it a month once the games started. This was enough for Dave and I, we both quickly bet Andy a case of beer that we would indeed cheer for our new teams for at least the first month of the season. The ceremony was a quiet and dignified affair at Fitzgeralds Hotel Casino in Reno, Nevada, where we had gone to worship. We exchanged all of our paraphernalia and toasted each other for luck. It was a solemn moment for both of us as we embarked on a course that would either save our respective franchises, or incur the wrath of the Football Gods and destroy us all. Luckily, we were drunk again so we got through it with the honor and class that it deserved.

The rules are simple:
  1. I am officially a Raiders and Dave a Colts fan from this past Super Bowl Sunday untilsuch time as one of the franchises clinches a playoff berth or is eliminated from playoff contention. At that time the follower of the team whose season is decided may resume his former allegiance. For instance, if the Colts are in the playoffs by October, I can, at that time, take up the mantle of long suffering Colts fan once again. In the same vein, if the Colts are eliminated in the 8th week of the season, I am also freed of my Raiders allegiance.
  2. While we may not actively root for our former teams, we are allowed to follow them froma distance as a detached observer. Hence, I may keep up to date on the Colts offseason moves, so long as I also keep up with the Raiders.
  3. If for some unforeseen reason the Colts meet the Raiders in regular season action, (theyaren't scheduled) then all bets are off and we are free to resume our former allegiances. We have both done fairly well this offseason. The closest either of us came to cracking was a few months ago when Dave discovered me, drunk, digging through his closet looking for my Colts gear. We had a long talk and I felt better about things by and by. I realize now that I need to suffer through this if the Colts are going to get better. It's painful, but it has to be done if things are going to improve.

So far the experiment has been inconclusive. My Raiders did dump Jeff George and Desmond Howard in favor of Rich Gannon and Darrien Gordon. I think we can all agree that those are upgrades all the way around. The Colts have added 4 to 5 new starters on defense and the results of their draft won't be clear for a while. Neither team has done anything that would make us believe that the curse is lifted. On the other hand, both teams have made moves this offseason that actually help their chances of becoming consistent winners, which is quite unlike them both.

Basically, the jury is still out and won't be back till September when the real games begin. Until then I ll be checking up on my Raiders, looking for that blockbuster deal that will vault them into the league's elite. Hoping against hope that they can return to their glory days and clinch a playoff berth by late October, so that I can experience the sublime joy of becoming a Colts fan again, and taking off this stupid damn skull and crossbones shirt.

Dean's House of Pain

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