Last year, my Hokies struggled and my Texans played solid football. This year, it’s the exact opposite.
Football gods, why must you troll me like this? Can I please have just one season when both of my teams consistently play well?
The Hokies are 6-1 and already bowl eligible, and the Texans are 2-4 (yeah, I know, it’s rough). I keep hoping they’ll turn it around and at least break even this season, but that’s looking less and less likely. Sigh. Both teams have seen their fair share of struggles, and not just on the field. Fans’ reactions to the struggles are causing some issues, and that’s where I draw a line.
VT’s kicking game has been pretty rough lately. After the East Carolina game on September 14, kicker Cody Journell came under fire after he missed three field goals and a point after touchdown. It was frustrating to watch, knowing we could have, and should have won that game 25-10. I’m not denying I made a few comments like, “Can AJ Hughes kick field goals?” but I kept them to that level. So then this tweet happened:
We all hoped Cody would improve, and he kind of did, but he still missed some kicks that should have been easy scores. I started to wonder what was up; I didn’t remember him ever having this much trouble kicking.
Apparently my questions about AJ fell on the tame end of the spectrum, because then this happened:
Rumors circulated that Cody received threatening phone calls and text messages about his not-so-solid performance in the Georgia Tech game (side note: still bitter about that being our “Thursday night game” this year). I didn’t want to believe it at first, because I like to think that Hokies know better than that.
As inappropriate as I thought that was, the stories I read about fans’ reactions to Matt Schaub’s recent performances made Cody’s troubles look tame.
Let’s start by saying I’m not a big Schaub fan in the first place. That might be partially due to my love for TJ Yates, but that’s beside the point. After the Texans’ overtime loss to Seattle (after losing 30-9 to Baltimore the previous weekend), my friend tweeted this to me, courtesy of @TerryBlountESPN:
Sure, I laughed, because it’s clever. But all QBs have bad games. The next game would be better.
(Side note: some fan spent $200 on a Schaub jersey and then tried to burn it in the parking lot outside Reliant Stadium. Might as well have just burned $200. Deadspin had a great piece on it.)
|I feel you, bro. GIF from Deadpsin.|
The final scores of the next two games were 34-3 and 38-13. So much for improvement. I certainly wasn’t happy to see my team lose so badly, but what upset me more was how the fans in Houston (and elsewhere) reacted to the losses. People allegedly showed up at Schaub’s house and taunted him and his family. I’m sorry, that’s just creepy.
Even worse, when Schaub left the St. Louis game with a leg injury, fans actually cheered as he was carried off the field. Cheered.
I’m not a Schaub fan, but I have a huge problem with that. You don’t kick a man when he’s already down. That’s just cold.
|I would be pretty upset, too.|
There will always be players who I dislike, and who other fans dislike. We’ll criticize them for a myriad of reasons, because we get into this mindset that we know the game better than they do. I’m especially guilty of that during basketball season. Sometimes, that’s more true than we think, but more often than not, we need to hush and back off.
I know there are a lot of people at Tech who don’t really like Logan Thomas and keep hoping backup Mark Leal will get a shot to play. I get frustrated when I’m standing in North End Zone and overhear people talking about how Logan “sucks” and how some guy claims he could throw better than him, and similar comments. I have a friend who, more often than not, refuses to cheer when Logan’s name is announced in the starting lineups. I admit that Logan frustrates me sometimes, because I know he’s capable of so much more than he’s shown us thus far this season. But I would never not cheer, or boo him, or anything like that.
Similarly, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that people cheered when Schaub got hurt. There are just so many things wrong with that to me. Or when Journell received threatening messages. C’mon, y’all, we’re better people than that.
I’m not saying that fans aren’t allowed to have some negative feelings or be disappointed every once in a while. We totally are. I’m just saying we need to find better ways of expressing our woes. I’ve never been a believer in booing or cheering when someone gets hurt, especially if it’s a serious injury. Schaub said in a press conference that he blocks out and ignores all the hate from fans, but I find it hard to believe that he can block it all out completely. It’s out there and he’s exposed to it. It’s bound to float around in the back of his mind at least a little bit.
I really do feel bad for Schaub, though. And Cody and Logan, at times. But the players deserve support, even in rough times, and they depend on the fans for that. What will they do if they don’t feel like fans support them? What happens next?
I don’t want to find out.