Unfortunately the Tennessee Titans have made more pushes for top draft picks in recent years than the playoffs. Even more unfortunate is that they've fallen short on both accounts.
Inevitably the discussions of the fanbase turn to how high a draft pick the team could possibly get followed by an urging to lose out or tank the season in order to secure your spot at the front of the line. Many are tired of perpetual mediocrity and feel that being stuck outside of the top 5 picks in the draft only exacerbates the situation. Granted it's happened earlier this year than in years past.
Historically, this type of talk made me shake my head. Personally, I couldn't wish for my team to lose under any circumstances. The base purpose of playing the sport is to win the game (cue Herm Edwards). But maybe now I see the light (or is it the darkside?).
As the Titans faltered against the Houston Texans in week 8, I began to almost feel a sense of relief. For the first time as a fan, I was okay with my team getting beat. Is it because of my lack of confidence in the new coaching regime? Is it that I've finally been beaten into submission? Maybe it's as simple as 2-6 means that there is really no hope for the playoffs and we've reached that point so quickly this year. Either way I had moved on, and much earlier in the season than I thought possible.
As recently as last December I was rooting for the Titans to win out against their divisional foes the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans. They were meaningless games in the grand scheme of making the playoffs, but they never felt meaningless to me. I still wanted my team to win, I wanted to go out on a high note.
But no more. Petulance had replaced apathy as my mind turned hateful. I wanted them to lose and lose in grand fashion. I wanted them to lose the rest of the games. I didn't want the team to be bad, I wanted them to be horrible. No way but up from there right?
They say that writing can be cathartic. They also say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. While pondering and scripting out my thoughts on this matter, coupled with my time off from the team, I have come full circle.
My desire to watch my team win has returned, and yes, even hope that it's possible has weaseled its way back into my heart. I will watch my team take on an old rival in the Baltimore Ravens this weekend and root for a win regardless of how it affects their draft status. I'm not exactly sure what came over me, but I think it's gone now.
At the same time I will no longer shake my head at those that feel differently. You want the team to lose out? I hear you. I have walked a week in your shoes, and can fault you not.