If you've seen one NFL Films highlight show about a playoff game, you've seen them all. Or, at least, you've seen the part at the beginning when a player who is stretching looks at the camera and says, "Win or go home, baby. Win or go home!"
That player is very accurate in his assessment because those are the only two options for an NFL team after a postseason game.
If you've seen one NFL blog/message board/BTSC gamethread, you've seen them all. Or, at least, you've seen the part where fans call for the coach's head, want the quarterback benched, want the owner to spend more money and wonder why the team wasn't prepared to play........and this is after the second preseason game.
Word Cup soccer, you have turned the American sports psyche on its collective head.
The US men's soccer team advanced to the knockout round after a thrilling 1-0 loss to Germany on Thursday, and fans danced in the streets as they chanted "USA!, USA, USA!"
Players hugged, and in the post-game team picture, they left no doubt they were happy and content.
Obviously, it's no secret that the first round of the World Cup isn't single-elimination, and America advancing with a 1-1-1 record isn't unusual in the context of that event.
It's just weird.
See, this is why soccer is so hard for the average American sports fan to grasp.
Celebrating after a loss?
We live in a country where players are reminded of fumbles they committed in NFL playoff games, decades before.
Do you think Rashard Mendenhall will ever be allowed back in Pittsburgh after his fourth quarter fumble in Super Bowl XLV?
He might be allowed back, but he better be dressed as a US soccer player.
Do you think Neil O'Donnell will ever be allowed back in Pittsburgh after his two interceptions in Super Bowl XXX?
Maybe, but he better be holding up the picture of Brandi Chastain when she tore off her jersey after scoring the game-winning shootout goal to give the US women's team the 1999 World Cup championship.
We live in a country that was so upset about the 2002 MLB All-Star game ending in a tie, the commissioner was forced to do something about it.
And what did he do?
He made a rule that the outcome of subsequent All-Star games would effect the World Series, with home-field advantage going to the team whose league won the EXHIBITION game.
Again, I just don't get you, World Cup.
The US team, being the underdog, isn't expected to go far in the knockout round, but so what?
I'm sure there will be parades, Today Show appearances and commemorative Wheaties boxes to savor the moment just as soon as the boys bring home nothing.
I want the NFL to start, complete with hatred and angst during August football.
I want stories from fans recalling their depression over Larry Seiple's fake punt in the AFC Championship Game between the Steelers and Dolphins at old Three Rivers Stadium, 42 years ago.
This whole celebrating a loss and being happy with an accomplishment that doesn't include a trophy?
Where's the decency? Oh right, that is decent. OK, where's the lack of decency?
And they think soccer will catch on in this country. Yeah right, I'll believe soccer is a real American sport, when fans start online petitions to get a coach fired after a tough loss.
Until then, I refuse to buy into a sport that brings fans so much joy and contentment without the affirmation of a trophy.
That's just weird.