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The kiss of death


January 12, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

I feel I should offer an apology to the St. Louis Rams. While I'm at it, perhaps I should ask for the pardon of the Tennessee Titans and maybe even the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Well, maybe the last team is a bit of a stretch, but I'd say I owe something to last year's Super Bowl participants. No, not because they gave me anything (although the Rams did send all those presents) but because I feel responsible for these proud team's early exits from the NFL playoffs.

This all started in September, although I know for a fact that the Chris Grant kiss of death started much earlier. However, it was in September that I decided I needed a favorite NFL team to root for. To that end I petitioned every team in the league and eventually settled on the Super Bowl champion Rams as my team. But, during the search, I also felt myself drawn to the Titans, as they used to be the Houston Oilers and when I was a kid in Texas I had a pencil that said, ‘love ya blue.' (The Oilers wore powder blue uniforms and I guess these pencils referred to the Oilers).


Anyway, I never meant to apply my lifelong curse to these two fine teams. If anything I was hoping to see them get back to the Super Bowl for a rematch. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen, for it seems no team I root for is ever going to win anything.

Of course there is the exception to this rule, that being the 1989 Michigan basketball team. I had been a proud Michigan hoops fan since the early 1980s when Gary Grant and Antoine Joubert were playing for the Wolverines, and this love carried over into my senior year of high school when I actually saw Michigan win the national title. I still remember how my heart raced as Rumeal Robinson made two fateful free throws to seal that game and give me my one big win. That feeling seems distant at this point. But if I concentrate hard enough, I can still taste it.

But that was it. Not since the end of March some 11 years ago have I known what it's like to be a winner, and it is this horrible curse that has put both the Titans and the Rams out of business for the season.

The roots of the curse date back far beyond the day I was born. I trace them back to 1919 and Harry Frazee selling Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Yes folks, the Curse of the Bambino is alive and well and not only does it haunt the Boston Red Sox, it seems to haunt this particular fan as well.

Still don't believe me? How's this for, an example. The year 1995; the place College Station, Texas; the victim, the Fightin' Texas Aggie football team. A team so loaded with talent that Dat Ngyuen didn't even get to play, the Aggies of 1995 were focused not just on winning but on winning the national title.

They were a preseason top 10 team with what seemed a weak enough schedule to get the Aggies a shot at the No. 1 ranking. One problem with that plan and that problem was me. I proceeded to watch our national title dreams disappear as we lost our first game to Colorado. Then a Zack Thomas interception caused us to lose to Texas Tech and that was followed by an embarrassing loss to Texas in the school's final Southwest Conference game ever. Yes, the kiss of death was in full force that year and the Aggies finished about 16 spots from No. 1.

By this point many of you must be saying I'm overreacting. You're probably thinking that I just don't root for good teams. Well think again, smart guy. The Rams were doing just fine this season until I jumped on board. With me on ship Kurt Warner got hurt, the Rams struggled to make the playoffs and when they did they lost to the New Orleans Saints, again.

The same can't quite be said for the Titans, but I wasn't really focused on them for much of the season. As I spent my time rooting for the Rams, all Tennessee did was compile a 13-3 record and seem on the verge of returning to the Super Bowl. But then the Rams lost and I was forced to direct all my energy toward Eddie George and company. The result, a big fat loss coupled with a pretty embarrassing performance against a Ravens' team I'm still not so sure about.

This brings me back to the Irish. First let me say I was in no way, shape or form rooting for Notre Dame. It's true, my lovely wife is a Notre Dame alum, but that doesn't mean I have to root for the Irish. I was, however, not rooting against them as they took on Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl exactly one day after we were married, and look what happened. The Beavers handed the Irish a 41-9 beating. I had no idea I could doom a team simply by proximity. Sorry Bob Davie, it's all my fault.

So where does this end? Do the Red Sox have to win the World Series for this curse to be broken? Can Manny Ramirez save me from another 20 years of feeling like a loser? One can only hope.

In the meantime, I'm contemplating sending a letter to every professional sports team asking for some sort of bribe. You get the picture. Either they pay or they're going to have to deal with having me as their No. 1 fan. And I doubt that's anything any team really wants to have to deal with.

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