Shouldn’t fans root FOR the team?

December 22, 2007 | Drew Forrester

What happened to just wanting the team to win because they’re YOUR team?

I guess it’s all part of the Ravens being 4-10 and losing eight straight games.  No one, from the fans, to the players, to the coaching staff, likes losing.  Recently, though, it’s starting to feel like SOME fans would rather have the team lose than win.

In my world, I can only judge the fans based on what I see…what I hear…and what I read.  And a lot of the dialogue I’m picking up on can be deemed odd – at its best – and downright not-very-smart at its worst. 

I had someone call my show earlier this week and say, "The reason Billick didn’t go for it on 4th down and 1 against the Dolphins is because if he elected to go for it and they scored, that would have meant that Troy Smith would have led the team to a victory and Billick would have looked foolish for not going to him sooner in the game.  He figured, by kicking the field goal there and tying the game, that maybe the Ravens would somehow lose in OT and he’d be saved a tough decision on who to start against Seattle."  Someone actually called me with THAT statement this week.  And they’re weren’t laughing.  I did, though.  So, now the COACH of the team would rather lose than win?  Sure.

An e-mailer today wrote, "Hey, Drew, I hope you remind all the Troy Smith fans that he’s 0-1 in his NFL career and he’ll be 0-2 after Sunday in Seattle. Everyone says Kyle Boller can’t win on the road in the NFL.  Well, evidently Troy can’t either."  Wow.  Troy Smith played the last three offensive series’ in Miami, helped the team to a game-tying field goal, and already people are on his case because he didn’t pull off a victory?  Whew – tough crowd. 

Another silly e-mail contribution came earlier in the week during the "who should start Sunday?" debate.  It went like this:  "Boller has more heart than Troy Smith could ever think about having.  Let’s see how fast he dashes out of the pocket if he gets to play against that Seahawks defense on Sunday.  Everyone will be crying for Boller again after about two quarters."  How can ANYONE make an assessment on ANY part of Troy Smith’s game?  He’s played 10 total minutes.  How about if we just watch him for a game or two before we decide if he’s Ken Dorsey or Ken Anderson?   Obviously, the writer of that e-mail is a Boller fan who evidently would rather see Smith fail than succeed — all because a Smith "success story" will reflect poorly on Kyle.

What happened to rooting for the guys in purple, no matter who they are?

And that goes the OTHER way, too, as it relates to Boller.  I’m amazed at how many people genuinely want to see him fail.  I don’t.  I think – and this has been my stance since training camp and I haven’t changed my tune one bit – that he is a very capable back-up, but not necessarily a guy I want starting for MY team.  That said, he was thrust into the starting role this year after McNair’s train wreck-season and, in all honesty, that’s really NOT Kyle’s fault.  He’s a back-up, plain and simple. 

I guess part of being a fan these days is "taking a stance" and then not budging from it.  The people who LIKE Boller don’t like Troy Smith.   And it’s not because they want to root against Smith — it’s more about wanting to be right about Boller.  And the same now goes for Smith.  The people who champion his cause are, generally, Boller detractors who realize they have another opportunity to derail the Boller-Express if Smith can at least be reasonably productive.

And, then, of course, there are the legions of Anti-Billick fan club members who have this twisted view of how they want the season to play out.  At this stage, it seems, most people realize Billick is going to be back in 2008, but there is still a lingering air of discontent that prohibts those folks from wanting anything good to happen to the club under Brian’s stewardship.  Strange?  Yes.  True?  Yep.

I hope Troy Smith has a bang-up game on Sunday and the Ravens win.  On the flip side, though, at this point, I’d settle for Troy Smith to have a disaster of a game as long as the Ravens win.  I’ll take a win, period.  In any way, shape or form. 

We need to get back to just rooting for the team.  I guess that might be too "pie in the sky", but something has gone wrong with the fan base in Baltimore this year.  Sure, I know everyone’s frustrated.  I get it.  I know the PSL holders pay good money for their seats.  I’ve heard and read all about that too.  And, there’s no doubt that as a paying customer, you have the right to voice your displeasure in any manner you deem appropriate.

But, I really don’t think wanting bad things to happen to players and the head coach is very productive. 

And I defintely don’t think wanting the team to lose is very smart.

And, in the end, it doesn’t really matter if we, as fans, are right about anything.  It only matters if the team is right.

This year, they haven’t been right very often.

I don’t know about you, but I want them to be right this Sunday.  And, I don’t care who gets the credit, who makes the winning catch, the winning play or the winning tackle. 

If you’re rooting against the Ravens or any of their players this Sunday, I hope Santa leaves you a bunch of coal in your stocking. 

With Steelers logos stamped in them.