The first football game I remember seeing was a television broadcast of a Miami Dolphins game my Dad was watching. I was three years old. Don Shula was the coach, Bob Griese was the quarterback, and my Dad was a fan. Win or lose; he cheered on the Dolphins and each player. He even had me clapping when the Dolphins would score. I quickly became a young Dolphins fan as a toddler.
I remember when our grade-school teachers separated us in the room to take Super Bowl sides. It was the Super Bowl against the Washington Redskins. I was a Dolphins fan at a young age. And that was until my older brothers convinced me I should cheer for teams closer to where I lived. So, I became a fan of the Falcons for years. That was until I realized in recent years the Falcons’ management didn’t have the skills to build good teams. So once again, I’m back to where my roots began.
Even though I cheered for the Falcons, my team, deep down, was still the Miami Dolphins growing up. I would lie on my parent’s sofa and watch Dan Marino. I will never forget the Marino versus Montana Super Bowl. Being a fan of both the Falcons and Dolphins, I realize that fandom is not the same anymore. It appears fandom has become somewhat contradictory.
No matter how good or how bad a player would play, if they were on the team you cheered for, it was taboo to bad-mouth your team’s players. Even if they didn’t play well, you stuck your chest out and said, “My player is still better than your player mentality.” Oh, don’t get me wrong. That still goes on a lot. But never was there a time when fans of teams would have the mentality of “your player is better than my player.” It was the same way for college football.
Even though Alabama fans knew better, they would still say Alabama was going to stop Bo Jackson. And five years ago, Auburn fans were boasting that Noah Igbinoghene would shut down Tua Tagovailoa. In that game, Tua posted six total touchdowns, 350 total yards, no interceptions, and an efficiency rating of 214.7. And yet, after the game, Auburn fans still bragged about Noah.
Today, as a Miami Dolphins player, Tua has faced backlash from fans and media members. But fans that bad-mouth Tua today know Tua isn’t reading their tweets. Tua has said he is not on social media nor watches sports media. In an interview earlier this year, he even admitted that he didn’t know who Chris Simms and Mike Florio were. And if you are wondering who they are, they are two of Tua’s biggest critics. But even though Tua led the NFL in multiple categories last season, some fans get their oxygen from focusing on the negatives about him, not the positives. And when fans praise him, to some, it’s as if that is a sin against God.
There is nothing wrong with being a fanatic of any player. And by fanatic, I mean excessive enthusiasm and intense uncritical devotion as defined by dictionaries. That is everyone’s prerogative. Unfortunately, when social media posts praising Tua are posted, so are the ones calling Tua fans clowns, a cult, TuAnons, and all sorts of ungodly names. Don’t get me wrong, fans of Tua call the ones that don’t like him names as well.
The most common name among that group is “Tua-hater.” But it isn’t that they hate Tua as much as they appear to hate the fans of Tua. As I’ve said before, they’re not addressing Tua since he doesn’t read social media posts. A lot of Tua’s critics will address him as a great guy in their critical tweets. So, the awful posts against fans praising Tua are against the fans.
There is nothing wrong with disagreeing. If you don’t agree, then disagree. But to devote all of your energy to talking about how bad one human being is at their job in videos or sports shows is eccentrically obsessive. That’s tearing someone down, and nothing is edifying about it. It’s not normal for people to spend that much time verbally tearing down one human being.
Those who are fans of Tua are fans because of what he’s done on the field. And those that verbally attack and abuse the fans of Tua seem to justify their actions with inaccuracies, false statements, and lies. For a long time, Chris Simms, Mike Florio, and Colin Cowherd insinuated with jokes that Tua couldn’t throw past five yards. When Tua fans defended Tua with the truth, manipulated fans of those media personalities believed those lies. They then attacked Tua fans in their tweets as if they sinned against God for coming to his defense.
When fans praise Tua for his full-field progressions, some lie that he doesn’t go through his progressions, despite Nick Saban, Matt Hasselbeck, Peyton Manning, and Kurt Warner breaking down the film, saying Tua is one of the best at doing so. And yet, those fans still preach the lie that he doesn’t go through progressions.
And some fans think Tua fans are sinning for supporting him just because they aren’t Tua believers. Those are the ones that say, “I want Tua to succeed; I just don’t think he will.” But in reality, they don’t want him to succeed. Because if he does, then it forces their pride, haughty spirit, and arrogance to be swallowed, and they will falter from what they preached. Human nature is that nobody ever wants to be wrong. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a receipted quoted tweet that asks, “Is this you?”
Additionally, my reasoning for mentioning contradictions earlier is simple. On one side, fans that are critical of Tua bad-mouth him, even in games, but still say they are a fan of the team. On the other hand, they criticize fans of Tua’s college, Alabama, for being a Miami Dolphins fans because of Tua. So, it just doesn’t make sense at all.
Since the old narratives were fake, the antagonists rubbed their hands together and said, “Oh boy! We have something else we can preach to Tua fans now. We have to let them know how sinful it is to praise a guy with multiple concussions in a season.” So, the new narrative is that being forced out of games by an NFL policy is equivalent to not being a talented or skilled player. The facts are that concussions didn’t force Tua to miss upcoming scheduled games; NFL protocol did.
Yes, the protocol gives players who suffered concussions time to rest. But protocol will never prevent injury to anyone in upcoming games. If a concussion happens in a game, it’s because of what just happened in that game, not previous games. Tua broke his ribs in 2021 because of what happened in game two of the season, not because he broke his hip at Alabama. And Tua missed games because he was forced to sit out of games, not because he got his bell rung. I’m not saying that player safety and precaution shouldn’t be heeded. I’m saying if he got those concussions in 1985, he still plays in the upcoming games because there were no protocols then.
So why is it that some fans and media personalities appear as if they believe it’s a sin to praise Tua? For me, it’s like a guy caught in adultery. The adultery was fun while it was happening. But they cover up one lie with another lie until, eventually, those lies don’t make sense, and they get caught and have to admit the truth.
And the truth is Tua Tagovailoa is a great quarterback. So, stop lying to yourself and other people that he isn’t. He led the NFL in multiple passing categories for the 2022 season. He was first in passer rating, yards per attempt, completed air yards per completion, completed air yards per attempt, and passing touchdowns per attempt. And you can argue that it doesn’t make him great. But I would argue that leading the NFL in categories above every other quarterback in the NFL still puts him in first place in that category, whether it’s for one year or five years.
If you disagree, you have a right to your opinion. But being a fan of your favorite player is not a sin against God. Just let us fans fan, and you do you.