As a general rule, NFL fans don't care a lot for their opponents' players. Odell Beckham Jr. for example isn't one of the more likable players in the league, and after his little escapade last year with Josh Norman, it’s not just Cowboys fans that don’t care very much for him.
So many fans were caught by surprise when when Dez Bryant and Beckham were spotted playing catch with each other prior to Sunday's game in Dallas.
Dez Bryant & Odell Beckham playing catch before #Cowboys vs #Giants pic.twitter.com/GqXXKgwchc— The Fanatics View (@thefanaticsview) September 13, 2016
Just a few hours before the Cowboys and Giants, two fierce divisional rivals, were to open their season, their two star receivers were playfully tossing the ball around, prompting CSNPhilly.com to wonder whether the pregame interaction between Bryant and Beckham was appropriate, or whether they were too 'chummy' during pregame warmups.
Beckham, who said Bryant was "like a brother to me," said they would not have had it any other way, even though their teams are fierce adversaries.
"Tomorrow's never promised, so we get out there, get to play a little catch, just mess around," Beckham said after the game in Arlington, Texas. "It's great to do that with one of the best receivers."
Sportsmanship is a great thing, but it doesn’t mean you go up and tickle your opponent's belly before the game.
Clearly, these two players have mad respect for each other. They can do all the jersey exchanges they want, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to give it everything they got when they’re out on the field. It’s not my favorite thing to see them palling around before they get in game mode, but it’s probably not something to get too worked up about.
A day later, an innocent little tweet by Alfred Morris caused larger waves in Cowboys Nation.
Let's get going Captain Kirk— Alfred Morris (@FredoSauce) September 13, 2016
Needless to say, Cowboys social media did not react well to the tweet, as many fans flamed Alfred Morris for cheering on Kirk Cousins during MNF.
This reaction about sums up the negative reactions.
@FredoSauce pic.twitter.com/GHVXAhtWW6— Matt Alexander (@MattAlex982) September 13, 2016
Of course there were also many reactions commending Morris for his support of a former teammate, but on balance, the negative reactions outweighed the positive reactions. Many fans were simply confused about why Morris would want his old friend to do well - after all, when the Redskins lose, it helps the Cowboys.
Morris is about as nice a guy as you can find. He holds the door open for the elderly, he always fills up the ice trays, and if you’re playing poker with him, he’ll never check-raise you.
And while it's not too hard to understand on a rational level how Morris would wish his former teammate well and how Bryant and Beckham respect each other greatly, the problem is that there is almost nothing rational about sports fandom. As fans, we're invested heavily on an emotional level in our team, and for many fans, part of that emotional investment includes something former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons calls sports hate.
"As fans, fundamentally, we need to root against certain players. Need to be bugged by them. Need to have our least favorite guys fail in the clutch just so we can say, ‘See, I told you, he sucks when it matters!’ Need to taunt our friends who root for their teams. Need to see the pouty look on their faces when things go wrong. Need to say things like, ‘He’ll never get it, he’s a loser’ and ‘He’s selfish and that’s that.’ Need to be definitive about people we don’t like. And why. And for as long as we can possible keep it going."
Football players are people too and it’s nice seeing them display great character and respect towards their peers in the spirit of sportsmanship, says my rational self.
But there has to be some unwritten rule being broken here because under no circumstances are you ever allowed to pull for, or tickle the belly of, a divisional rival, says my hyperventilating emotional self.
What do you make of this, did Bryant and Morris break an unwritten sports hate rule?
And then there's this:
#Redskins LB Su'a Cravens' mom is a Cowboys fan "I'm not talking to my mom this week. I don't talk to Cowboys."— Brody Logan (@BrodyLogan) 14. September 2016
Sports hate is good and all, but not picking up the phone when your mom calls can be a very risky choice. Hope you thought this one through, Su'a.