Unless your interests completely lie in college sports, then chances are you’ve had this problem. Maybe it has to do with a team you hate, or one you just don’t want to win that day. Whatever the case may be, when there are players from your college on professional teams, fans are often conflicted.
Happily, there are a handful of BC Eagles in professional sports, particularly football, and some have done well on a big stage in recent years. Matt Ryan is one, who has quarterbacked the Atlanta Falcons to several playoff appearances, Matt Hasselbeck led the Seattle Seahawks to Super Bowl XL, and BJ Raji made an impact in Super Bowl XLV, amongst others.
Now, it may just be me, but my pro sports allegiances are strong, and have been in place for longer than my BC allegiances. I don’t adopt a new NFL team every time a BC player gets picked up somewhere else, and with BC players all over the league, that would be tough. In the case of Matt Ryan, or all of the other BC players in the NFL who don’t play for my team, I wish them individual success, but whether their team wins or not is irrelevant to me (unless it’s a team I don’t like). I’m not kept awake at night wondering how the Atlanta Falcons played in their most recent game any more than I’m dying to see how the Titans are doing under Hasselbeck, or the Packers with BJ Raji, or the Saints with Tennant and Dunbar, etc. If it comes to my attention that they’re having nice individual seasons, well, that’s nice, and congratulations to them.
Respecting them and their contributions to BC without necessarily rooting for their team is satisfactory enough. Clearly, this is not the case for all BC fans, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. I root for BC players when they play for BC; when they move on to the NFL or any other professional league and end up on a team I don’t root for, I still like them as players and/or BC guys but I’m generally not concerned over their teams’ performances.
As for teams towards which I am not ambivalent, if Luke Kuechly gets drafted by an NFL team I absolutely despise, I’m not going to get rid of my season tickets and buy a Kuechly jersey, foreswearing almost 20 years of fandom in the process. I’ll hope he has a nice career — and hope he gets traded — but lifelong pro fans have to draw the line somewhere. For example, Boston College’s Dallas fans don’t have to become fans of the hated Giants because of Mark Herzlich and all the rest, just like Giants fans don’t have to root for Dallas every week because Alex Albright is there. I’m sure BC fans of both, however, want the best for them personally.
Of course, last season, I had no rooting interest in the Super Bowl, but I was pleased to see BJ Raji get a ring with Green Bay. I wasn’t doing jumping jacks or anything, but it was a nice accomplishment. If it was my NFL team on the losing side of that game, however, it would have been of minor consolation.
The bottom line is that BC fans should not have to feel compelled to root for the teams of former Eagles in any professional sport. If fans choose to support teams with BC players for that reason, that’s perfectly fine. That should not, however, be a mandatory requirement of being a BC fan. We are allowed to respect our former players and hope they represent the school well (and should do those things), but also to support whatever teams we choose to support.
For me, it has worked out gloriously, as the Giants have set themselves up Boston College South. It’s a total coincidence that it’s happened this way as well. I was going to their games regularly a decade before I made it up to Chestnut Hill. There is also nothing wrong with wanting a glut of BC players to fill your roster to ease such conflicts.
Still, I must apologize to Matt Ryan. I think you’re a talented quarterback, I appreciate what you did for BC and I hope you represent yourself well, but the fate of playoff seeding has caused this impasse. I wish you continued success, but as for your team, not so much; not this week. Go Giants.