-
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Washington Redskins fans — does this sound familiar?

From ESPN.com on the reaction from Baltimore Ravens players to booing at M&T Bank Stadium during the 23-17 wild-card game loss, under the direction of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, to the Los Angeles Chargers:


“As players cleared out their lockers Monday, cornerback Marlon Humphrey said he prefers to play on the road because fans boo you whether you’re playing well or poorly. ‘It’s definitely different when you’re getting booed in your own stadium in a playoff game after the week before when it was electric,” Humphrey said. “All year, you hear something about Joe, Oh, boo, take Joe out. Then, yesterday, it seemed like you were hearing Joe chants. It’s pretty interesting to me how the narrative switched pretty quickly.’”

This, of course, was the same whining we heard from Josh Norman and D.J. Swearinger about Redskins fans this past season — they would rather play on the road, because apparently, their feelings are hurt when they are booed.

At a time when the game is being criticized by hard-liners for being too soft on the field, its players appear to be softening to playing for anyone other than Kool-Aid drinkers in the stands.

“It definitely did bother me,” left tackle Ronnie Stanley told ESPN.com. “As a football player, an athlete, a competitor, [we] sacrifice our whole lives to be in this position. We love our fans and everything they’ve done for us, but there are going to be good times and there are going to be bad times, and we expect your support in all of those times. If you’re not going to support us, then you’ve really got to question yourself on that one.”

Really? Ravens, love them or leave them?

This is what happens when you have a generation of children raised with the notion that critics are “haters” — as juvenile a word as has ever entered our vocabulary.

This may require a level of understanding beyond the capability of NFL players, but fans booing at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday weren’t booing Lamar Jackson. They were booing the idea that Joe Flacco — the greatest postseason quarterback of his time not named Tom Brady — was on the bench while the rookie quarterback struggled with on-the-job training in a win-or-stay-home wild-card playoff game.

They were booing because their team was about to lose a playoff game with the quarterback who has played 15 postseason games and won 10 of them (including Super Bowl XLVII) — seven of them on the road, an NFL record — on the bench. They were booing because they were watching a rookie who in the middle of the fourth quarter had completed just 3 out of 10 passes while the quarterback with 25 postseason touchdown passes watched from the sideline.

They were booing because they weren’t particularly interested in the feelings of Lamar Jackson (that was just collateral damage). They were booing because they thought the idea was to do all you could to win the game.

I would argue the most reasonable reaction to the idea that Ravens coach John Harbaugh refused to pull the rookie and put in Flacco to give them their best chance to win that day would be to boo. To boo long and loudly.

Don’t tell me about the lack of protection for Jackson in the game and the Chargers’ pass rush. They stacked a defense daring Jackson to throw the ball. If Flacco is behind center, that defense is forced to change. And I understand that Jackson led the Ravens to the playoffs after taking over when Flacco was benched and winning six of seven starts. But this was a unique situation. You had a rookie quarterback who was playing some of the worst playoff football we’ve seen lately and a legendary postseason quarterback on the bench. It wasn’t a typical situation. But the move to make was obvious.

Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston tweeted that he believed that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti wanted Jackson in the game “unless there was a major injury to Jackson.”

Boo.

The players weren’t the only ones who seemed offended by the booing. Some media members were upset as well.

Here’s a rule that should be followed — if you are being paid to be at the football game, whether it’s a player or the media, you don’t get to criticize the ones who paid to be at the game. I’m not talking about rude or obscene fan behavior. But this notion that people who invest thousands of dollars every year to support a team have to do so blindly shows a lack of sensitivity for the only ones in this business who reach into their wallets.

Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons, Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast every Tuesday and Thursday.


Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.