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Can You Love the Players Who Left You?

Adam Vinatieri is no longer a New England Patriot. This is not really news. However, I found myself thinking about this painful situation when talking to my girlfriend the other day. She is also a Pats fan, but is not much of a sports fan. When she heard the news her first question was, “Am I still allowed to root for him?”A valid question, I would say. I have been a Pats fan since I can remember, which would be about ’87. There have been very bad times, and lately there have been very good times. The New England Patriots have been a team that has been fun to follow the past few years. With three championships (didn’t think I was gonna forget to mention that, did ya) in the past five years, you could say this team was a powerhouse. There have been a few players associated with these winning ways, and Adam Vinatieri is one of those players.

Vinatieri joined the Pats in 1996, the year they lost the Super Bowl to Favre’s Packers. I still remember being pissed that Parcells picked him over Matt Barr that preseason. Especially after he missed 4 field goals in the second game of the season against division rival Buffalo. Of course, after that he pulled himself together and has had one of the greatest kicking careers ever. Vinatieri was the Patriots. It’s hard to think of a kicker that was loved as much as Adam by the fans. Now he’s gone. Moved on to sign with the hated Colts.

I’m sad that Adam is gone, but as Boston fans we are accustom to sports heroes leaving town, and some go on to win a championship after. A few names are Roger Clemens, Carlton Fisk, Pedro Martinez, Drew Bledsoe, Johnny Damon, Ray Bourque (although the fans were happy about this one), and even Robert Parrish (he won another championship with the Bulls in ’96). It always hurts when a player you’ve loved leaves your team, but are you allowed to continue loving that player? I think it depends on many different variables.

Being that Vinatieri has just left, let me use him as an example. Here are five rules that will help you figure out if you should be rooting for a player that has left your team:

1.    You are allowed to root for the Loved Player Who Left’s (LPWL) team as long as that team is not a rival of your team. For example, if Adam had signed with the Arizona Cardinals I’d be a Cardinals fan. However, Pats fans hate the Colts therefore we cannot root for the Colts even though Adam is on the team. Without the direct conflict there is no reason you can’t learn to love a new team. I’m sure there were a lot of new Chief’s fans the first year Montana suited up for them.
    Exception: You must root against the LPWL’s team if they are playing your team. This is self-explanatory. If Adam were on the Cardinals, I would root against them if they were playing the Pats.

2.    If you are not allowed to root for the LPWL’s team, than you are allowed to root for the LPWL. This is especially easy with Vinatieri. I can root for him to hit every field goal he kicks. If he’s kicking a lot it probably means the Colts aren’t scoring touchdowns, which is even better. This becomes tougher in other sports and with other positions, but it still works. You could hope Johnny Damon hits 20 home runs if they come in 20 losing efforts (not that I’m rooting for any Yankee to do well).
    Exception: You must root against the LPWL if their success will hurt your team. In other words, if a Vinatieri field goal helps the Colts beat the Pats, I gotta be against him. You may still love Shaq on the Heat, but you want him scoring only 10 points when he plays your Lakers (not MY Lakers). This doesn’t hold only to the LPWL against your team. If the Colts winning would cause the Pats to miss the playoffs, I cannot root for Adam. This of course is why it’s always nicer to see the LPWL go to the other conference.

3.    You are not required to have any loyalty to the LPWL if that person left bashing your team on the way out. I haven’t heard much about what Adam is saying, but here is where Pedro comes to mind. He wouldn’t let up on the Red Sox organization after he left the team. Shaq was the same way when he left the Lakers. It is always hard to hear the LPWL bash your team. You may still love that player, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but no one is required to any more.

4.     You must DISOWN the LPWL who bashes your team and the fans (in other words, you) on the way out. Adam hasn’t done this. I have one word to sum this rule up: Clemens. He is possibly the greatest pitcher of all time, and the Red Sox organization did him no justice on his way out; however, to drag down the fans is just wrong. I’m sure it has happened elsewhere, but I can think of nothing but Clemens. I could also call this the Anti-Bledsoe rule. When Drew Bledsoe left the Pats he was not happy with management, but he also took out a full-page ad in the newspaper thanking the fans for their support over the years. It’s the only reason, though it pains me to say it, that I’m a Cowboys fan (sorta).

5.    You must DISOWN the LPWL if that player breaks consistently your team’s heart. If the Colts go to the next four Super Bowls by beating the Pats on Vinatieri field goals each year, Adam Vinatieri never was a Patriot. Clemens had an opportunity to fit this rule too, but despite winning a ring with the Yanks, he never pitched well against the Red Sox when it mattered.

I’m sure there are other situations out there, and I know that no set of rules will cover everything. I would stand by these five rules as a surefire way to know if you should root for the player that left you high and dry. It’s something you need to know as a sports fan since it is a business and players will continue to come and go. I will have to wait a see how long I can root for Adam Vinatieri to hit field goals as the Colts lose games. Just remember, players come and go, but your team is always there for you.

Unless the owner decides to move them, but that’s an entirely different problem.

-Peraka

3 replies on “Can You Love the Players Who Left You?”

A good fan’s article… This is a personal decision each fan must make, but I agree with your guidelines. It’s hard to stay loyal to players who left your team, especially since there is no loyalty between players and teams (re: Damon). That’s ok, though. I would jump to a rival company if the situation was right in a heartbeat.

That said, could you please fix that awkward spelling mistake in the 3rd paragraph in the body.
I think you want to say “loved” and not “lover.”

Great story! How did I miss a chance to vote on this one?  Dunno, but this one’s a gem.  Good work!

Great article Love the rules.  I totally agree.  There is no loyalty in sports, so fans must adjust their own loyalties accordingly.  Of course, we all just root for laundry anyway.

Six months ago I couldn’t have cared less about Coco Crisp.  Now I’m this close to buying a #10 Sox jersey (and not a throwback Rich Gedman jersey either).

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