Cheering for the underdog
There are few things in life as gratifying as picking an impossibly long shot and then rooting him home. Oh, the sweetness of looking around to all your scoffing friends and loudly asserting, “I told you so” and have the betting ticket to prove it.
The football version of that scenario happened during the playoff game between The Washington Football Team and The Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game that was not to be missed on Saturday, Jan. 9.
To say Tampa Bay was favored was putting it mildly. They have gobs of talent and the Greatest of All Time quarterback by the name of Tom Brady, also known as “The Ageless Wonder” and as the owner of six championship rings.
The QB for the hapless Washington team (known at the WFT, with tongue firmly in cheek) was the underdog of all time, right up there with Rudy, he of Notre Dame legend and movie fame. Only this no-chance prospect didn’t have to walk on; he was dragged out of a college math class and told to suit up.
Now Alex Smith, the comeback kid featured in a recent Bleacher Views, was supposed to be the WFT quarterback, but he had pulled a leg muscle and couldn’t go. The prior starter had been released for doing stupid stuff off the field, so guess what? The team was down to the taxi squad QB by the name of Taylor Heinicke (pronounced High-Nee-Kee, I think).
He had bummed around the league for several years as a back-up, but he was widely considered to be too small to make it in the big time. Small QB’s have had a rough go of it regardless of the Doug Flutie’s and Russell Wilson’s of the world, but it is always a good idea to remember the old adage about the fight in the dog before telling the smaller man he cannot compete.
Now if this were a Hollywood production, the little underdog would step up and win the game, making the GOAT look like a goat in the process. Well, he did come pretty close, and I guess that is pretty good considering what kind of year this has been. We will have to take our gratification where we can find it these days, and having our underdog put in an overdog kind of performance will have to do.
But about next year? Well, let’s just see what happens. It might be worth keeping an eye on the WFT.
Millerton resident Theodore Kneeland is a former teacher and coach — and athlete.