In the War Room with Warfel: Unpredictability, underdogs and hypotheticals

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

As I was watching the slate of NFL games on Sunday, as most Americans do, I found myself rooting for the underdog in every game aside from the one where my team was playing.

I found myself admitting that I root for the 49ers because I want to see former Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo succeed in the NFL.

Much like when Saluki alum Craig James tipped the ball that led to the interception sealing the Eagles win over the Packers on Thursday night, I was excited.

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Everyone loves an underdog story, and if you’re too prideful to admit that, it’s okay; I will hand you a towel to wipe up your tears if the Patriots don’t win the Super Bowl this year.

It is teams like New England that most fans dislike, unless you are a Patriots fan.

People in sports always talk about dynasties and how great they are for the sport to see teams succeed for long periods of time.

Is it, though? If the Patriots win yet another Super Bowl this year, I will still more than likely tune in to NFL games next season.

It is the unpredictability in sports that makes it fun to watch; even thinking of the St. Louis Blues in the NHL going from last to Stanley Cup Champions, that is not something anyone would predict.

Who would tell you that after the Brewers lost outfielder Christian Yelich on Sept. 11 that the team would then go 12-5 and come within one game of the St. Louis Cardinals for the division.

There are several examples across all of sports where people are left asking how did that happen again?

Underdogs and unpredictability make sports what they are for fans; exciting, yet heart-wrenching and all the emotions in between.

Even a casual sports fan can get caught up on the Cleveland Browns maybe being a good team this year after several years of mediocrity.

If I were able to predict the winner of each professional sports league, first of all I would be a very rich man, but secondly there would be no passion in my teams.

I have much respect for fans of the Detroit Lions and the Browns who have longed for years for a team that could have a good year.

After the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, I congratulated my Cubs fan friends, who I knew had been rooting for their team in the highs and lows.

If you find yourself turning the television off when your team is down a lot or when they give up a dumb play, are you a true fan?

True fandom lies in the simple ideology that even through the unpredictability of any season — whether that be the NFL, MLB, NBA or the NHL — you are rooting for your team in and out.

For Patriots fans in the NFL, Los Angeles Dodgers fans in the MLB and Tampa Bay Lightning fans in the NHL, you should expect your teams to perform and be upset when they lose.

However, just because those fanbases have the expectation to win every game, that does not mean that a fan of the Miami Marlins, who accrued 57 wins in the 162-game MLB schedule, should not also be upset when their team loses.

Underdogs, unpredictability and fans with passion, even for teams that traditionally lose year in and year out, make sports fun.

You think of the “what ifs:” what if the Buffalo Bills are a legitimate good team this year, what if the Lions win the division this year.

Fans of any team should hold on to the “what ifs” because eventually those will turn into reality.

Cubs fans waited 108 years for a World Series title, Blues fans waited 52 years for a Stanley Cup — those what ifs may take your whole lifetime.

Hold on to those hypotheticals, though, because they are what make sports great; that any time in any year, any team can raise the championship trophy.

Adam Warfel, Sports Editor, can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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