Sports has a thing it calls “sudden death.” Some fans take this too far.
People get silly crazy over ball and ballplayers and teams and games. I am just sick enough to love that they do.
Some of you are juiced about today’s Super Bowl and some of you would not spit on the Super Bowl if it were on fire. But most everyone is like me in that they love the harmless kind of crazy person who latches on to a team or player and, with the performance of that team or player, lives and dies. I mean this literally, most unfortunately.
Last weekend I was alerted to an obit that ran in a Northeast newspaper about Eleanor Gallagher of Nanticoke, Pa. She might still be with us had the defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau, not left the team -- or so her obit suggested:
“Eleanor was a devoted Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and the family firmly believes that the recent separation of Dick LeBeau and the Steelers’ poor performance this season might have inadvertently contributed to her demise.”
In early January in the NFL playoffs, LeBeau’s defense gave up 30 points in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. At home.
LeBeau, who was likely sad but not THAT sad, quit five days later. Eleanor, 81, quit five days after that.
If the Steelers had won and been playing in today’s Super Bowl, who knows how many good seasons Eleanor might have had left.
I read that brief story on LarryBrownSports.com. No idea who puts the blog together or writes the stories. I don’t know what its purpose is, but I think it is to publicize the off-the-beaten-path stuff in sports, not so much the scores or schedules or yardage gained and whatnot. You know, it’s more about which golfer faked a kidnapping this week when he really just drank too much wine and passed out on a rock. What the Kardashians are up to or down to. Who deflated a football or found a way to inflate a baseball. The PED of the Week. Or who passed away because the Steelers couldn’t defend a short passing game.
That sort of refreshing thing!
Such a story sends the inquisitive down other trails that lead to The Fan Who Loved Too Much. (To Eleanor’s family, when you say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” I wonder if they know whether we’re talking about the loss of Eleanor or the loss to the Ravens. Or the loss of LeBeau. Or if it even matters anymore.)
A gentleman from the Midwest named Loren passed away in 2012 from complications of a longtime disease “and heartbreaking disappointment caused by the Kansas City Chiefs football team.” I looked it up: The Chiefs were 1-8 at the time or Loren’s death and had absorbed a 16-13 setback at Pittsburgh two days before his passing.
Probably it’s for the best that Loren wasn’t around this year; KC started out 7-3, won five straight – then lost to winless Oakland, and lost four of their final five games after that. Which means they have a lot in common, at this point, with Loren.
What appears to be our kind of gal passed away in midsummer of 2013. Marylou passed on a Friday the 13th, the “perfect day” for such a milestone since she was a big fan of Stephen King. “She was also a lifelong NY Mets fan,” the obit read, “though surprisingly, that wasn’t what killed her.” Marylou’s family/obit writers sound like a hoot.
A deceased Minnesotan was remembered as “a Twins fan, though angry at Joe Mauer.” An editor’s note here: Mauer is the Twins’ catcher/first baseman, who hasn’t hit well of late but, well, no catcher/first basemen are perfect, except the catcher/first basemen in heaven.)
Sometimes just the thought of losing can send a guy to into the ultimate overtime. A Colorado fan of Denver’s Broncos named Jim died during the late winter in 2012, not long before Peyton Manning signed with the team. “…he abhorred Manning and evidently wanted out before the deal was done,” his obit read. Just my opinion, but that’s an awfully hardline stance. Concession prices might kill me, but not a roster move.
How do you measure up to these fans? Six feet higher, I hope. And good luck today. Hope your team wins or dies trying – but I hope you don’t.