TAMPA — If there wasn’t enough negativity in the air with all our professional leagues deciding they’d rather battle in the courtroom rather than on the basketball court and would rather take their shots within the gridiron of the law as opposed to the actual gridiron of the NFL, I bring hypothetical negativity.
For the sake of our sanity.
Now I’m not a negative person, or even that cynical (all the time) but I want to proceed into the 2011-12 NFL season with caution. I advise that you do aswell. Because let’s be frank here: yes the Bucs were the darlings of the NFL playing the little engine that almost could last year. But with all this time to nothing but get hyped up, I find myself being reminded of the many times I’ve burned myself doing this before.
There was 1999 when I tasted the repugnant bitterness of disappointment for the first time when I saw The Phantom Menace. Hype killed that. There was also going to my first party in High School. Hype killed that too. Even last year, within my family that hails from Minnesota and were ready to celebrate the Vikings triumphant victory in Super Bowl XLV. Hype (and numerous other things) killed that real quick.
The point here is not to be cynical, but rather wary and careful about how much is celebrated before anything actually takes place. One of the reasons last year was so fun for Bucs fans was the fact we had no expectations heading into last year. Take the playoff ambitions we have now and apply it to last year and it’s sort of a failure. But without the excess weight of expectations and the ballooning of hype, it was an enormous success.
In what other market is a 10-win, non-playoff season a glowing success?
But while being cautious, this isn’t to say we should be ignorant either. The success of last year affords us some hype slack, but lets not max out that credit card too quick. 10-wins and no playoff birth gets you a small allowance, not a fortune of glory to flaunt.
And trust me, no one is as big of a Bucs fan than me. Trying to write about a shutout win without using the phrase “EAT IT SAN FRANCISCO, OH YEAH!” was actually harder than I thought. But I’ve had my fair share of self-inflicted pain in terms of getting too excited about a season and having it be a dud.
Take, for instance, the 2008 season. Entering Week 14 with 9 wins made my Bucs ego inflate to outrageous proportions. Plus the fact that we played Carolina, Atlanta and Oakland made it seem so easy. But imagine the pain of losing four straight games to close out the year and lose out on the playoffs and multiply it by a billion and you have where I was at due to all my self-induced hype.
I’m not saying expect nothing, because the talent is there. All I’m saying is let’s not go over board and set ourselves up for pain. I honestly thought my very talented Chicago Bulls would win the NBA title this year. All that happened was I became wiser in the ways of avoiding pain.
This upcoming season for the Bucs will be fun, no doubt about that. Let’s just not ruin it by inflating ourselves so much that we spiral down a depressive hole if week one results in another loss to the Lions. Let’s shelve all of our backed up hype and disperce it throughout the season and let it build as the Bucs build a winning record that results in Josh Freeman hoisting the Super Bowl trophy.
Look, I’m doing it to myself again already.