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How to Quit your Favorite Sports Team

The news about Jamal Adams asking the Jets for a trade led to a good question:

A great question, Patrick. I've given up multiple sports teams in my life, the first being the Bengals. I became a fan after Bengals-Bucs was the first live football game I went to and I think I said I'd root for whichever team won. What a fucking mistake that was. I followed them through the next nine years where they failed to post a winning record. Through finally making the playoffs, and having the Franchise immediately injured on a dirty hit. Through Carson Palmer retiring rather than play again for the Bengals. Through the breaking up of the Carson/Ocho teams. Through the death of Chris Henry. Through four consecutive playoff appearances and first-round losses. Through the team running up a 10-2 record before Andy Dalton broke his thumb during his best season as a pro. Through the postseason meltdown that involved a Vontaze Burfict interception being immediately negated by a Jeremy Hill fumble before the Bengals blew the bag. And it stopped after that. Finally, I had had enough. 

Advice on Giving Up Your Favorite Football Team

1. There has to be a breaking point

Mine was that postseason loss to Pittsburgh. That was when I realized that postseason success just wasn't in the cards for this team. It was an organization perfectly fine with mediocrity and that's all they'd ever get. Well, that was their business and no longer mine as I decided that was it. There has to be a breaking point where you decide not to do this to yourself anymore. Maybe it's a tough loss. Maybe it's your team asking for a godfather offer for their best player before he turns 25.

2. Get out before the Draft

Free agency too, but to a lesser extent. If your team signs a veteran and it doesn't work out, it's easy to blame the veteran or the fit. If you stay around until the Draft, you'll be talking yourself into every pick becoming a star. It's too easy to sell yourself on hope with a bad organization because hope is all you have. There aren't any Patriots or Warriors fans living on hope. They live on reality because they've grown to expect greatness from their organizations. Bengals and Jets fans have to sell themselves on hope and that same hope will have you thinking all seven players your team drafted are headed to the Hall of Fame. And when they don't, you'll talk yourself into the next year's class being the one to turn the team around.

3. Avoid reading about your team

I guess I should add "listening" to things about your team now, with the days of podcasting. I had to quit reading about the Bengals immediately because it's another way you'll talk yourself into things being different. Anything put out by the team will always have a positive spin on it. Anything you read on team websites or message boards (do message boards still exist????) will always have those that are way more optimistic with you arguing with those that are way more pessimistic than you. You'll find yourself in the middle and drawn back into the fray. Don't take the bait.

4. Understand that quitting your team isn't quitting the sport

I quit watching the Bengals cold turkey. So that meant I had my Sundays free to no longer watch Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton on purpose. I could simply watch the best game at the time. No longer did I have to miss out on a much better game because I was trying to watch Bengals-Browns. It was freeing.

5. Try to catch yourself arguing for the team

In general, arguing in the defense of billionaires feels like a bad move. In this case, it's even worse because they haven't shown anything to deserve your benefit of the doubt. Maybe Jamal Adams isn't worth the money he's asking for. Maybe the Jets would be better served to flip him for a couple of nice draft picks. But do you trust the Jets to do the right things with those picks? If they do hit on them, will they run them off again like Adams? Will they pay running backs and off-ball linebackers? Why are you defending a team that doesn't deserve your defense?

6. You can always come back

Always. I haven't actively followed the Bengals moves since but if Joey Burrow gets hot, guess who always believed and never wavered??? Who's gonna tell you no? The dopes that stuck around during the bad days? Their opinion means nothing! Imagine swearing off the Chiefs a couple of years ago only for Patrick Mahomes to be dropped in your life. You put in the time so you make the calls.

I'd love to tell you that it's easy to quit a team but it's not. I will say that it gets easier with each passing year and as the team you rooted for begins to look different due to age/retirements/injuries/new regimes. It's also the best decision I ever made and the Bengals haven't won eight games in a season since. Walk away, my friend.