The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 11, 2012

No civility in NFL fandom

By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor

— NFL fans are unique among sports fans. If there was a scale of obnoxiouness similar to a blood-alcohol Breath-aylzer test, they would register three times the normal level of boorishness (your standard Notre Dame fan) on any given Sunday.

Fueled by $8 beers (Really, does that right there not say something about NFL fans?) that bring out a blood lust, fermenting a cartoonish devotion to their team that would make the most devout pro wrestling fan shake his or her head in bewilderment.

OK, this does not describe all NFL fans, but really, how else can you explain Washington’s Hogettes or the general rabble that pass for Oakland Raiders fans?

Or, now, your typical Kansas City Chiefs fan.

Was it really surprising that this past Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs fans cheered when their own starting quarterback, Matt Cassel went down with a concussion during the Chiefs’ 9-6 defeat against Baltimore?

The team is struggling and when your team is bad, it’s always the quarterback’s fault, right? The QB becomes a target of fans’ invectives and in their ever clear-minded thinking, the QB becomes Public Enemy No. 1. If only we had a better quarterback, they reason, all would be well with their otherwise perfect team.

To get an idea of how convoluted such thinking is, these fans were cheering because it meant Brady Quinn would get some playing time. Brady Quinn!

Such behavior though, is nothing new in the NFL.

Detroit Lions fans cheered when quarterback Scott Mitchell was hurt and I was in the stands (completely sober of course) when Detroit’s fans cheered Rodney Peete’s injury during one game because it meant Andre Ware would get some playing time. Andre Ware!

What may be surprising, or more likely, a bit amusing, is the reaction of ESPN analyst, and former Eagles and Chiefs quarterback, Ron Jaworski who asked, “Where’s the civility?” with a straight face.

Surely the man they call “Jaws” knows better, having played in the same city whose fans booed Santa Claus and love the reputation they have been forever saddled with for that memorable moment in the City of Brotherly Love.

This is the same NFL that celebrated the exploits of Lyle Alzado and Conrad Dobler, probably two of the dirtiest players ever. Civility? Seriously?

It’s also the same NFL that still is dealing with an embarrassing bounty scandal. Civility?

Pro football can be a beautiful game, orchestrated to a near-symphony of motion and raw power. It’s why most people follow the game. Well, that, and fantasy football.

Yes, sadly, fans do become too caught up in that power and emotion and get carried away with their attachment and devotion, and in their alcohol-fueled passion, sometimes act inappropriately.

But please, spare us the faux indignation.

Besides, those Chiefs fans likely felt foolish enough after waking up with a hangover and realizing Brady Quinn was the object of their affections. That alone should be enough to keep them in line the rest of the season.

Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at