For the past few months, I’ve been bothered by a pop song. Beyond the fact that it’s a pop song, of course.
The song is “Just Give Me A Reason” by Pink and the dude from Fun. The song bothers me, and not just because it’s hard to tell which singer is which because their ranges are so damn similar. The song bothers me because, as is sometimes the case in pop music, the lyrics do a poor job of actually conveying complete thoughts.
The biggest example of this in the song is in the first verse. In Pink’s verse, she says, “You’ve been talking in your sleep/things you never say to me.” Okay, that’s all fine and well. But then she says “Tell me that you’ve had enough of our love.” Wait, WHAT? How did you infer that he was tired of you just because he’s talking in his sleep? What sort of sense does that make? Is my relationship doomed because my fiancée is a somniloquist?
There’s a real life explanation for this ridiculous lyric, and not the expected misogynistic rant about women overreacting to perceived signs in relationships. The explanation is that people see what they want to see. They find a narrative that makes sense to them and is easy to digest, and they hold onto it despite evidence to the contrary. It’s nearly impossible to be convinced otherwise once they have gotten this narrative into their head.
This obviously applies to football fans.
As we start barreling towards another exciting NFL season, I thought it would be interesting to look at certain attitudes and narratives about players and teams and how the truth might actually be a little bit different.
The Narrative: Cam Newton is a very talented quarterback, but it’s hard to tell if he’s actually a franchise level quarterback because he sulks when he performs poorly and he has only won 13 of his 32 professional games.
The Reality: The reality is that Cam Newton threw for more yards in his first two years than ANYBODY. EVER. And the team hasn’t won since he’s been there, yes, but they also weren’t winning much before he got there either. This isn’t the NBA where there’s a lottery. You get the #1 pick only if you’re an absolute mess of a franchise. The Panthers were that before and they have been that since. Only now are the pieces starting to look better, and they still are in the toughest division in football. That’s not Cam’s fault, and it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that he sulks.
People don’t like to see people sulk because it goes against another narrative we have: that professional football players are supposed to be warriors who don’t show emotions. Players have been criticized for laughing on a losing sideline. And Cam Newton – who is on a losing team for what is probably the first time in his entire life – is not allowed to sulk because it looks weak. Or something. Look, I don’t make up the narratives, I just mock them relentlessly!
My Prediction: I don’t think Cam Newton slows down in his third year. I think he continues to impress and the team gets better too. And I think he probably won’t be criticized for sulking as much because, hey, you don’t sulk when you win!
The Cincinnati Bengals
The Narrative: The Bengals are improving each year, but that division is so tough! They don’t really have a chance to make it past the Steelers and the Super Bowl Championship Ravens!
The Reality: It isn’t as farfetched as you’d think. The Bengals aren’t a sexy pick, but they’ve been consistently getting better since the orange-haired QB put on his orange helmet. You’ll never confuse Andy Dalton with Peyton Manning (mostly because Manning has a fucking soul), but he has slowly built up a winning culture since being drafted. Who would have ever predicted the Bengals would make the playoffs two years in a row? Is it really unreasonable to think they won’t build on that success?
Consistency is a good thing for the Bengals because the Steelers and Ravens don’t seem to have it. Mostly because of injuries in Pittsburgh, but you really have no idea what squad the Steelers will throw out from week to week. And I don’t really know what to expect from their defense.
And the Ravens? Well, they’ll probably be pretty good, but I still fucking hate Flacco so I have to discount everything they do. COME AT ME ARTIS.
My Prediction: I think the Bengals squeak one out and get their first division crown. Of course, if the Ravens also make the playoffs I’m sure the Bengals would get crushed in a playoff game. That’s another consistent aspect of Cincy’s team: postseason futility!
The Narrative: He sucks.
The Reality: He actually sucks worse than you think.
My Prediction: He loses his starting job and everyone is happy. Except Mark. But fuck that guy.
What other NFL narratives do you think are ridiculous? Let us know in the comments section!