I’m pretty sure that I’m not allowed to mention the name of the very large sporting event that took place yesterday without the express written consent of the National Football League, so we’ll just call it what it was: a curbstomping.
Of course, for every team who delivers a righteous beating, another team must receive that righteous beating, and as a Browns fan, I certainly know how that feels. (For all you frontrunners, fair-weather fans, and other vermin who might be wondering: it feels like shame, anger, doubt as to whether football can ever be enjoyed again in the future, and an overwhelming compulsion to consume alcohol.)
Put your tail between your legs and giddyup on home to these jams, all odes to feeling like the most worthless piece of shit who ever lived. Think of it — Peyton Manning feels like that today! Just proves the ageless adage that sometimes you’re the bird, and sometimes you’re the windshield.
Leave it to the king of talking about what a piece of shit he is, Trent Reznor, to deliver a song whose lyrics are listed as the entire entry for “self-loathing” in the encyclopedia. I complain often and loudly about Trent Reznor’s whininess (“He’s been famous for twenty-five years — how bad can it? I mean, what, so he’s addicted to drugs. Boo hoo.”), but he really does nail that “I just lost the Super Bowl by thirty points” kind of despair.
Hey, we Americans love a fairy tale, and wouldn’t Peyton rising from the ashes to win one more Super Bowl have been a beaut? Alas, he got his ass kicked instead, and some maddeningly smug Denver DJ who’s never watched a game in his life is probably playing this song this morning. Meanwhile, Broncos fans seethe quietly in traffic, counting the minutes until they can clock out and go to the goddamn recreational marijuana dispensary already.
Have I got a song for you, Denver fans! Would you believe that there’s a song all about, well, not winning? Failing to win, neglecting to win, achieving the opposite of winning? Although, really, it’s not so bad as Beck makes it out. You’re not the Cleveland Browns, after all.
A fan’s love is unique: pure as a white-hot flame and enduring as a…well, something really enduring. Stonehenge, or the pyramids. Yes, a football fan is nearly indistinguishable from these timeless feats of man, and that’s why a loss like this one stings so. Some teams are lucky and only feel the joy that football can bring. For others — say, the Cleveland Browns, for example — football is pain. Loss and sadness and deep, gut-rooted, embarrassing pain. This song may as well be the official power ballad of the Cleveland Browns, for crying out loud.
The silver lining of losing the most-watched sporting event of the year by a staggering deficit is that at least you’re not alone. Wherever you happen to be, you probably don’t have to look too far to find another Denver fan who’s also licking his wounds, and that’s what makes football great, isn’t it? Somehow I doubt that the guys in REM were talking about football when they wrote this classic, but that’s hardly relevant. Take comfort in your friends, Denver, and remember the Cleveland fan’s affirmation: there’s always next year.