Got some breaking news here: The National Football League team that I root for – the New York Jets – will not be participating in the upcoming playoffs.
Seems a 5-11 record wasn’t quite good enough for Todd Bowles’ crew to sneak into a wildcard spot, so I get to play adopt-a-team for yet another postseason.
Most recently, the Atlanta Falcons have served as my “silver medalists.” By that I mean they were the team I cheered for when I wasn’t cursing the misfortune of the Jets.
It was fun following them all the way to the Super Bowl a year ago; it was not quite so fun seeing them deliver the choke of the century against New England. It was especially hard to swallow against the Patriots because, you know, that Jets thing.
Therefore, with Atlanta taking on the Los Angeles Rams tonight in an NFC wildcard game, it is safe to assume I’ll again be donning the red and black and hoping Matt Ryan gets his MVP swagger back.
Safe, but incorrect.
Now that the Rams are back in L.A., it allows me to return to the rooting interest I established in the Stone Age – back when there was both an American Football league and National Football League.
As a kid, I liked the AFL better than the NFL. It was more high-scoring and more fun, and with the Jets featuring guys like Joe Namath, Don Maynard, Matt Snell, George Sauer and Emerson Boozer, they quickly became the team I lived and died with.
But, the NFL was still the senior circuit, so I couldn’t and didn’t ignore it.
And even though I had some affection for the Green Bay Packers – my dad’s favorite team – the NFL club I claimed for my own was the Los Angeles Rams.
Deacon Jones was the defensive player I admired most in all of football, and QB Roman Gabriel had his own brand of “cool.” Bernie Casey and Jack Snow, of course, were great receivers.
Plus, they had those cool blue helmets with white horns.
Thus, in the two-league era, my teams were the Jets and the Rams, with the Shea Stadium tenants my overall faves.
After the merger, the Rams continued to be my “backup” team, and held that status until 1994.
That’s when they moved to St. Louis and that’s when I completely stopped caring about them.
Nothing against the Independent City – I’m sure it’s populated by fine people. But just as the Colts aren’t really the Colts unless they’re in Baltimore and the Raiders were never the Raiders when they were in L.A. (and certainly won’t be in Las Vegas), NFL teams whose mascot is an intact male sheep should call Southern California home.
But now they’re back, and while I know the folks in Missouri were heartbroken to see them leave, I was quite happy to have “my” Rams once again working and playing in the City of Angels.
And it turns out the 2017-18 season has been a good one to jump back on the bandwagon.
They won the NFC West with an 11-5 record and have the best young coach in the game in Sean McVay.
(McVay, by the way, is the grandson of John McVay, who coached the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League. I’m a WFL aficionado, so this family tie has special meaning for me).
The Rams also feature rushing sensation Todd Gurley, who I covered in college when he played at Georgia, and QB Jared Goff, who has been simply outstanding in his second pro season and first as a full-time starter.
And being a guy who likes offense, the fact that L.A. leads the NFL in scoring at 29.9 points per game has made it quite easy for me to transition back to rooting for the Rams.
So while Jets management is trying to figure out what long snapper to take in the first round of draft on April 26, the Rams will host the Falcons today at 8:15 p.m.
And that means I have a postseason clash to get excited about.
That being said, I want to thank Atlanta for giving me the opportunity to rock red and black for the last two decades plus. I’ll always hold a soft spot in my heart for you guys. And hey – if you win this evening, I’ll be in your corner for the rest of the playoffs.
Still, I really do look better in blue.