Fan Psychology and Getting Old

This morning came, the dawning of a new day. A Sunday. Glorious sunshine . . . and the Steelers still trying to ruin it for me. Some things never change.

Like sports fans.

I don’t normally post things so quickly after a game. It allows me to calm down. Collect my thoughts. Drink some alcohol. Whatever it takes. I’m busy here, people. Busy, busy, busy.

But as luck or bad luck would have it, I had time last night and the inclination to post quickly.

It really bothered me that I wasn’t very upbeat after beating a team 38-17. What is wrong with me? Is there something wrong with me?

Back in August, I’d have been absolutely giddy to be 4-0 right now. Instead, I’m nervous.


The status quo has changed.

If we were 2-2 or 3-1, a shot at a playoff spot would be unrealistic or less likely. The bar would not be set so high. But at 4-0 and ranked in the top ten, that goal is so close you can almost smell what the Rock’s got cooking.

It’s part of being a fan. Of being human, really. If you win one game, you want to win the next. And the next. All of them! If you win a National Championship . . . you will want to win another. Won two? Of course you want–NO expect!–the Three-peat!

We’ve won four games and we want more! We want the Lion, dammit. In the playoffs!

But the way we are actually playing, doesn’t quite jibe with the reality we now expect. We know that four wins won’t put you in the play-offs. Who knows how many wins that will be? It’s maddening, really.

My fellow blogger, a real Turkey at heart, put it this way: “I guess I am never satisfied. Some will say a win is a win, but I am worried.”

I remember watching Joe Paterno’s teams in the 70’s and 80’s. Ugly offense and great defense. Three yards and a cloud of dust. I wished we had big explosive plays.

Be careful what you wish for. Now that’s all we’ve got. Ugly wins with flashy, explosive plays.

What happens when the explosion doesn’t happen? What if there is no spark?

Fans are always unhappy. If we run well, we complain that we run too much and don’t pass well. If we pass well, then we want more rushing. If the defense is great, we want better offense. If the defense sucks, then we want it to be better. You get the idea.

We should live more in the moment, and enjoy being 4-0 and ranked in the Top 10.

Top Ten???? How about TOP FOUR! The latest AP poll has Penn State leap-frogging Iowa to the #4 spot behind Alabama, Georgia and Oregon! Whoa Nellie! That bar is really HIGH now! We’re only #6 in the Coaches Poll so we’ve got some work to do there.

I also forgot to blog about my post-game experience yesterday. I was coming out of the stadium with our tailgating party–my two nephews and one of their girlfriends–when a man came walking toward us. Big guy. Sunglasses. Light blue suit. I know he looked familiar, but my aging brain couldn’t quite produce a name. Pretty sure he was a broadcaster . . .

Anyway, he points at me as he passes and says “you look just like him. Cappelletti.”

The young uns I am with–all barely college age–have NO CLUE who John Cappelletti is. My train of thought about the man who said this is now derailed for the moment. I explain to them that John Cappelletti is Penn State’s only Heisman trophy winner, back in 1973. The girlfriend is Googling him and looks at me. “You don’t look like him.” Thank you Mrs. Captain Obvious.

I don’t. But I was wearing my blue #22 jersey. I point to the number and explained to her that I think he was jokingly referring to my jersey because Cappy wore #22.

We get back to the car and I overhear someone at another tailgate make a comment about Matt Millen.


The bells are going off! That was Matt Millen. Matt Millen said I looked like John Cappelletti. It was Matt Millen! And I missed a photo op! I was afraid to stop because I know I should have known who he was but I couldn’t come up with the name that quickly. Curse this aged brain of mine!

What Could Have Been!

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