The Opening Pitch: Do you remember the exact day you started rooting for your favorite team?
No, "the day you were born" doesn't count. I'm talking about being cognizant for rooting for that team. So if you root for a team from your hometown — or because your parents raised you to love a team — you don't really know. If you started rooting for a team on the day you got a fat college acceptance envelope rather than a thin one, that counts, but let's recognize the serendipity that may be the margin between you rooting for Michigan... or Michigan State.
For me, I know the exact moment I converted to Florida fandom: July 21, 2001 — the day of the most important sports event of the decade for me. It was the day I went on a blind date with my future wife, born and raised in Gainesville. She won me over with her intense Florida fandom. It was something I had not experienced ... and something I wanted for myself.
Over the decade, I have taken a lot of grief for my bandwagon Gator fandom, usually some superficially sexist variation on "So you became a fan of your wife's team?"
But my die-hard fan allegiance to Florida — from Zook to Meyer (to, um, Addazio to, presumably, Meyer), from premature NCAA Tournament exits to back-to-back national championships (and then back-to-back NIT invites), from Joakim Noah to Tim Tebow — has given my decade meaning in ways that die-hard fans of any team can appreciate. Next to my marriage and my kids, that fandom is the defining relationship of my decade.
July 21, 2001: An otherwise innocuous day on the sports calendar — no NFL, no college football, no NBA or college hoops, just some baseball games on the schedule that day — became the best sports moment of the decade for me.
Urban Meyer Un-Retires: (1) Meyer will be back by the start of next season; (2) Meyer has serious health issues he isn't talking about; (3) Meyer's future rests entirely on whether he can go against every instinct of intensity he has honed.
NFL Talking Points:
— AFC Wild Card: If Jets win, they're in. Same with Ravens.(Jets host Cincy on SNF; BAL @ OAK.)
— Cowboys complete NFC playoff field: Now, on to losing!
— Giants: Worst stadium-closing AND playoff-killing loss ever.
— Did Raheem Morris just save his job in Tampa from Cowher?
— Unlikely Fantasy Stud: Jerome Harrison (Not a fluke!)
— Monday Night 2009 Finale: Appropriately, Favre.
Gone Bowlin': C.J. Spiller is going to be a very, very good NFL player. ... USC did nothing to suggest its season was anything but a flop. ... If Dion Lewis could run over college football as a true freshman, what happens as a soph? ... Tonight: Texas A&M vs. Georgia in the Independence Bowl. Going to bet that Bulldog fans are a lot more interested in what's happening in Gainesville than what's happening in Shreveport.
NBA Talking Points: Kudos to Lakers fans for putting on the most memorable Christmas freak-out since Eagles fans booed Santa Claus. Throwing those foam fingers on the floor almost convinced me that you seriously care about your teams.
The Last Word: "I didn't want there to be a bad day where there were three kids sitting around wondering what to do next."
— Urban Meyer, on his motivation to retire from coaching. Still in effect, presumably.
Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff.â†µ
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