We start with a question that cannot be answered: How can a functioning adult possess such passion for a football team that his behavior becomes subhuman?
At the USC-Cal football game Saturday, I watched a middle-aged guy who appeared to be normal
-- he wore clothes, looked like he bathed, had a full complement of teeth -- lose his mind over a football game. He lunged across the fence separating the stands from Cal's tunnel and hurled some of the vilest words you can ever imagine at Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob as Ayoob left the field.
This was nasty, hide-the-kids stuff: Ayoob was awful, he was worthless, and he apparently is lying about his gender. One of his points is difficult to argue: Ayoob has not been a good quarterback, and his work against USC was so bad it was often hard to detect the target of his passes. I've never seen a Division I quarterback throw more passes that look like punts, or consistently throw a ball with the tip up -- "An ol' tail-dragger," Keith Jackson would say -- the way he does.
Still, how does such venom arise from the performance of a 20-year-old kid in a college football game? It would have been an upset if Cal had beaten USC with Peyton Manning as the Bears' quarterback. How could it be that important?
This isn't the first time Ayoob's detractors have made their presence felt. He has been pelted with similarly ignorant ranting at several other games in Berkeley this year. Assuming this cretin wasn't a bettor scorned (Cal didn't cover), how does someone get this worked up?
The performance of a 20-year-old kid can't possibly be that important, can it? Watching this guy savage Ayoob was enough to make you swear off sports, especially when you realize it's happening hundreds of times in hundreds of places every Saturday afternoon.
You know what saved it? A guy standing two feet away from the obscene loudmouth lit him up. He kept it clean, but he made it clear that anybody whose life is that empty should find another way to express his inadequacies. Most people within earshot showed their agreement with a round of applause.
And in the name of all the college guys who have had to listen to the obscene bleatings of deranged fans, here's to them.
This Week's List
• A part of me expected them to say, "Oh, and one other thing: He doesn't put the seat down": Despite the available evidence, it was bizarre to read the Eagles' tepid rundown of Terrell Owens' transgressions, which included Owens' apparently violating the team's dress code by wearing a tuxedo with tennis shoes after a game.
• The worst ongoing trend in journalism: The guy-returns-to-play-against-his-former-team angle.
• It just goes to show, you can never underestimate the power of Matt Barnes' returning to play against his former team: The Kings allowed the Knicks their first win of the year, in Sacramento.
• When the Kings travel to Detroit, the Pistons are going to air a video montage depicting the rubble of the Sacramento Kings: The NBA fined the Kings $30,000 for their pregame video showing some of the seedier aspects of Detroit.