All Greg McElroy of the New York Jets has done in life is win. He grew up surrounded by football. He becameTexas 5-A player of the year, record-holder for touchdown passes in his division in high school, and did it all in the freedom-loving, family-embracing state of Texas. It's a little place you might have heard of known for cranking out the finest signal-callers in the nation, and also for boundless optimism about what is possible in this country.
Greg McElroy's optimism did not stop at the borders of Texas, however. He kept on winning at the University of Alabama, defeating the University of Florida in the 2009 SEC Championship Game and going on to win the BCS Title Game against Texas. At every point, McElroy believe he was bound for greatness. He believed in it, and that belief was contagious among his teammates.
And yet after three years in the NFL, McElroy has been given virtually no chance to succeed. He's languished behind Mark Sanchez, holding a clipboard patiently while the Jets flounder. Mark Sanchez never won a BCS Title or Texas state championship.
The reason for this?
I blame the death of optimism, and the emergence of cynicismism, all part of a new and distinctly American disease affecting not just Greg McElroy, but our society.
This society is a team -- a team just like the New York Jets. The great wall of democracy holds back the walls of tyranny from that society. This is not unlike a football team. There is an invisible wall of togetherness that separates the team from chaos and loss. It may spring a leak -- all walls do -- but when it does, a leader is there to plug it with a finger. That finger has a name: winning.
That silent finger helps the team stick together, or at least that team should stick together. But the Jets have been plagued by a series of leaks undermining everything they've worked for and dissolving the invisible bonds of their little society. The team clearly needs a leader like McElroy, but no one in the Jets locker room can so much whisper without having it become front page news in the New York Post.
There is an Edward Snowden in their locker room. And his extreme individualism is killing all the team works to accomplish.
This is all part of a disturbing trend. I call that trend "cynicismism." A recent study by the Pew Research Group* shows 78 percent of Americans identify at "cynical." When cynicismism creeps into a social network -- be it the New York Jets or America -- the very fabric of society is threatened. When that fabric comes apart, the individual suffers, and the team collapses.
*This study is about beverage consumption patterns in teenagers, and has nothing to do with attitudes at all It's not even by the Pew Research Group, and was published in 1993. But, um, keep going, because he's not linking it, either.
Cynicismists don't go to movies together. Instead, they sit at home naked and watch the story of a failed family, the Bluths, in new episodes of Arrested Development. Cynicismists shop online only. Their most common Amazon purchases are not books, but video games and horse masks. Where Americans sit down for meals with friends, Cynicismists pick ingredients from a steam tray table at the Cynicisismist's restaurant of choice, the demand-a-food chain bistro.
One guacamole ramekin at a time, Cynicismists are turning America into one giant Chipotle of sad diners. They are all listening to their earbuds, and not to each other. They order a burrito for one, and then post about being "forever alone."
Cynicismism is an epic fail. And no one in America should be LOL'ing about its far-reaching effects on the .
And the NFL, as the most popular sport in America, is America itself. Red states love its violence. Blue states love its teamwork. Purple states admire its quasi-socialist business structure , and fuchsia states embrace its next-man-up willingness to replace even the most outstanding talent in the name of teamwork. Plaid states embrace its pescatarian unifascitarianilism.
Everyone in America loves the NFL. But the cynicismists and their snitching tortilla bistro dystopia will kill the league, and with it possibly this country. Rex Ryan's emphasis on the individual above all -- and on the showboating Sanchez over a sensible, proven winner like McElroy -- is just symptomatic of Cynicismismists and their a la carte mentality toward football, America, and toward democracy as we know it.
The NFL is now like a Facebook where the only button is "dislike."
As a result, our national optimism gland is failing. It's something I call O.I.D.S: Optimism Is Dying Syndrome. Everyone from bobos in the Virginia Suburbs to Nub-Worts in the Pan-Texan Mall-o-sphere is suffering from O.I.D.S. Neither Costco America nor Wal-Mart America is immune to it. It permeates the homes in Roomba Wisconsin. It infects the spirit of Dyson Hand Dryer Rhode Island. Even in the burgeoning cornfield prefab Old Moderne pseudo-condos of Hibbertarian Apple TV Indiana, O.I.D.S. strikes home.
Its effects are devastating. We now share the national playbook with the world and call it patriotism. We give winners clipboards. We elect the Ron Paul of the NFL, Rex Ryan, and let the Rand Paul of the NFL, Mark Sanchez, freelance the league into oblivion. We discard the ties that bind, and replace them with Amanda Bynes.
We mock the church of the rock, and instead rock the church of the mock.
We need a Google Hangout on a national level about O.I.D.S., cynicismism, and why we leave starters in life like Greg McElroy on the bench when it's the fourth quarter and we need a win. We need to realize that winning is the ultimate social network. Why won't the Jets unfriend cynicismism? Like this country, they have already let too many winners get away.
You have a new DM, America.
It says that we cannot let cynicismism and O.I.D.S. buttfumble away the future of this country.
Where did the last winner on the Jets' bench go, you ask? To the cradle of democracy, New England, where a certain football Patriot--one who understands the value of some light but necessary spying to keep the team together--happily picked up what others had #blocked from their Google Plus face circles.
There are no cynicismist leaks in the Bill Belichick barricade. But in Foxboro, the winners have never carried clipboards. They have a vaccine for O.I.D.S. and other diseases of the modern American soul. It's called teamwork, and it's an over-the-counter drug available anywhere Americans decide to work with each other, and not alone on their iPads in the dark, cynicismist Chipotles of the soul.