I have a friend who has OCD. I mean, not like clinically diagnosed OCD, but OCD like he’s a little nuts when it comes to keeping his house and his yard and his garage a certain way.
So a couple of weeks ago, knowing full well that it would drive him completely crazy, I casually mentioned to him in conversation that I had mowed my front yard. I didn’t explicitly say that I didn’t mow the back yard, and I didn’t make a big point of why I only mowed the front yard. I was just telling him about my day and sandwiched into the things I had done that day I mentioned mowing the front yard.
When I mentioned it, I could see confusion on his face immediately, but I didn’t slow down my story to allow him to ask questions.
As it happened, we both got sidetracked with other conversations at some point and our discussion ended innocently enough.
About an hour later, after I had forgotten the conversation and the landmine I had planted, he comes up to me, and with obvious concern in his voice said: “How come you only mowed your front yard?”
You see, for him, there is no gray area. You don’t just mow the front yard and not take care of the back. You don’t even mow your entire yard unless you also take the time to do all of the trimming. For him, there is one way to do things, one right answer, and one way to go about life.
Now, my friend isn’t much of a Gopher fan. He pays attention, but he doesn’t make a point to watch the games and he doesn’t break down the matchups. If the game is on the radio while he’s working around the yard or in the garage, he’ll listen, but other than that, he mostly just pays attention to whether or not the Gophers win or lose so he has something to chat with me about.
But there are a lot of people like my friend within the family of Gopher fans, and those people apply the same black & white thinking to their fandom.
Either the Gophers are going to the Rose Bowl, or the sky is falling.
Either Jerry Kill is the Minnesota Bear Bryant, or he’s just another stiff on the sidelines.
Either the University of Minnesota is completely doomed when it comes to sports, or next year is THE year. #NYITTY
And, would you believe, they take the same approach to how the view Mitch Leidner?
Last Saturday, in the midst of, quite literally, the best passing performance of Mitch Leidner’s career, people were still calling for Demry Croft.
After going 10-12 in the first half, someone to my right screamed “PUT IN DEMRY!” after a Leidner incompletion in the 3rd quarter.
A few rows behind me, someone yelled something similar after Mitch had an incompletion that went through Wolitarsky’s hands.
There was even someone in front of me who screamed after a Mitch completed a pass to Woli because there was somebody open further downfield (I believe it was Carter and to say he was more open, in my opinion, was sketchy at best but I also drink heavily).
Over and over, just a blatant unwillingness to see what is going on before their very eyes and, if even for one afternoon, allow themselves to admit that QB1 is playing a decent game.
And I didn’t even look at Twitter during the game.
But the guy who took the cake was sitting two rows behind me.
(This recollection is completely from memory. I have not re-watched the game, so the details may be a little fuzzy, but the sentiment remains.)
I believe it was in the 3rd Quarter and it was a 2nd or 3rd and long. Mitch drops back to pass, but things began to close in around him pretty quickly, so he stepped up in the pocket. Another couple of seconds goes by and Mitch doesn’t find anyone downfield, so he takes off running.
Mitch makes it back to the line of scrimmage, maybe a little further, and an Ohio player dives at Mitch’s feet to make a shoestring tackle.
And that is when I heard it…
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?! YOU CAN’T GET TACKLED LIKE THAT!!!”
If you want to bash Mitch for his pocket presence, fine.
If you want to complain about him not identifying an open receiver quickly enough, go ahead.
If you are of the opinion that Mitch is a slow and plodding runner, be my guest.
You can have any of those opinions and you could probably find a way to make a case, but if you’ve lost so much perspective on Mitch Leidner, that you are going to yell at him for getting tackled, there is just no hope for you.
So friends, I invite you: live in the gray with me this Saturday.
Seriously, go out and mow half your yard before kickoff on Saturday. And don’t bother trimming.
Go to the grocery store without a list.
Consider the other side of a debate.
Look, I’m not saying Mitch silenced the critics last Saturday. I’m not saying he’s over the hump, and I’m not saying he won’t have another terrible game this season. You know what, he probably will.
But maybe we can allow ourselves to enjoy a moment of reprieve from the dumpster fire of QB play we’ve seen the last… 5 years? And enjoy a nice performance without bias.
Because I’m telling you, if you can’t figure out a way to have some perspective and enjoy the good moments when this rises above our damaged level of expectations, then you are cheering for the wrong football program and you should find another team.
I’m sure there’s still plenty of room in the Fargo Dome.