Sports. Oh, sports.
Such an unfortunate obsession. Great for high stress levels and weekly letdowns but hardly any help keeping my girlfriend happy. Why do I care so much about something I have no control over?
Sure, the San Francisco 49ers have a higher win percentage when I wear my Ronnie Lott jersey. And of course it matters who's with me and where I'm sitting in the living room. But few things mean more to us beer-drinking, number-donning brutes than a W on game day.
Oh sports, what a brutal relationship we have.
Raised close by the sports-crazed city of Philadelphia I had no choice but to become a devoted fan. As attractive as it was to root for Rodney Peete, Bobby Hoying and the Detmer Bros. it wasn't enough to uproot my allegiance to my father and his love for Bill Walsh. Both with ties to Stanford and an admiration for the West Coast Offense, I inherited a 49ers ballclub and a Jerry Rice jersey before I even knew how to play the game.
My fanhood became so hardcore that I swear my life has become synonymous with the San Francisco gold diggers' success. Or lack thereof. Born in 1985, I was nonexistent or unconscious for most of Joe Montana's career and mainly remember him as a Kansas City Chief. I tapped in just in time for Steve Young and was rewarded in the '94-95 season with a Super Bowl win. It was the year I mastered the Jerry Rice slant in the back yard. The same year my Little League team went to the state championship.
I vividly remember watching Terrell Owens and "The Catch II" to finally beat Brett Favre in '99. The miraculous comeback to beat the New York Giants in the 2002 wild-card game was witnessed in the Oxford Valley Mall food court and then … that was it. After watching Jeff Garcia complete 68 percent of his 6-yard passes, I was forced to root for the likes of Tim Rattay, Ken Dorsey, Cody Pickett (I liked rooting for Cody), Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill, Chris Weinke, J.T. O'Sullivan and Troy Smith. Ugh.
And of course, Alex Smith. Ask any of my college buddies. I have a soft spot for Mr. Smith. Drafted No. 1 overall in '05 out of Utah, he came into the league around the same time I was pursuing a rap career. I was a sophomore in college and was being "scouted" by "talent agents" while Smith was taking the starting job from Rattay. Smith had a productive year under Norv Turner, and I signed a record deal with a hit single. Here we go. Ups and downs, lefts and rights, B, A, B, A, select, start.
Seven offensive coordinators in seven years and never a head coach that really spoke the language. It was a direct correlation to what was happening in my professional career. Sure we had the talent, sure we had the wits, but for some odd reason it was not translating. The losing seasons weren't all our fault but it sure felt like it. Lines were crossed. Something was off.
Enter new management. A "coach" who has played the game at quarterback and speaks the language. Someone who knows exactly when to tell their players "calm down, we're going to be just fine." Focused. Driven. Learns from mistakes. Plans and executes properly.
Yes, winning changes everything. It also reminds us why we love sports so much. Besides the obvious bragging rights, it helps the game of life make sense. Life is a team sport. You can't go at it alone. From co-workers to friends, communication is the key. There will be plenty of ups and downs, surprises and unexpected turns. But stick it out. Work hard. Listen. And do all the small things to get better every day.
The 49ers take a 5-1 record into the bye week and Alex Smith's QB rating of 95.2 is good for eighth best in the NFL. My latest mixtape "Pabst & Jazz" will be out just in time for the must-see Harbaugh Bowl on Thanksgiving Night. My newest album "Is This Too Orange?" will be hitting shelves around the same time the San Francisco 49ers finish their first playoff run in almost a decade. Oh, sports.
Here's to a winning season, Mr. Smith.