Maybe you’ve seen the story about the lifelong Buffalo Bills fan who passed away last weekend, and in his obituary requested six Bills players to serve as pallbearers “so they can let him down one last time.”
This obit is not to be confused with that of the late Cleveland Browns fan who requested players as his pallbearers “so the Browns can let him down one last time.” Or the Maple Leafs fan who requested Leafs players as pallbearers “so they could let him down one last time.” Or the Eagles fan. Or the Skins fan. Or the Vikings fan.
It is, objectively, a clever line. And I am not here to drag the dead guys, they’ve suffered enough. But this line is as played-out as Eli Manning, as expired as the Giants’ chances of winning a Super Bowl. (In a Nexis search, the earliest use in print I could find was from a 1994 column about the Lions, but I’d bet it was an old joke even by then.)
The sentiment is relatable as hell. When you find yourself with a sports loyalty—often not by choice, but by geography or family or because they had cool uniforms—the ultimate, fundamental fear, if generally unexpressed out of superstition, is that your fandom will never pay off. That you will die before you see the team win a championship. The Eagles fan referenced here passed away six months before Philadelphia’s Super Bowl win, and that is a chilling thought. It could happen to you.
But is it too much to ask for America’s tortured and terminal sports fans to mix it up a bit? Wouldn’t it be cleverer to come up with something new, something personalized, something extremely pointed? Something like this:
You’ve got your whole life to think of a good line for when it’s your turn to go. It’s worth coming up with something original, even if that brainstorming comes at the expense of spending quality time with your children or whatever.
So my condolences to the family of the Bills fan. I wish he could have lived long enough to see a Bills championship, but also to serve as a pallbearer at my funeral, because I already know he’d be good at letting me down.