Peruse any media outlet with sports news and you'll witness fans who complain about everything, or seemingly everything.
Take the Ravens as exhibit A. Sprinkle in a 4-6 season with inconsistencies throughout every aspect of the team, add in that four of the six losses have been by three points and you have a recipe for bandwagon jumping.
Who proclaims this as an actual issue? Well, all the fans that criticize other members of a fan base for having the audacity to question decisions or performances by the team's front office, coaches or 53 players. And you'd better not point a finger at the equipment managers, either.
Are you telling me that when watching the Nov. 17 game against the Bears -- or any of the other three-point losses -- the folks who proclaim they are not bandwagon fans never curse at coach John Harbaugh or quarterback Joe Flacco and don't toss something at the TV when a Raven fumbles the ball or misses a pass?
Those that claim to be this made up clan of loyal fans, do they calmly watch all manner of play and circumstance bordering on calamity, without so much as an uptick of their blood pressure? What are they, zombies?
Seriously, fans of all kinds, those that are season-ticket holders and those that aren't, have a right to grumble a bit when their teams lose. I might add that those fans who own personal seat licenses -- and occasionally don't go to a game or, dare we say it, sell their tickets to out-of-town fans at a premium so they can afford the ever-increasing cost of being in the fan business -- are still fans.
Look, Baltimore football fans have been spoiled. For Harbaugh, Flacco and company to have a .644 winning percentage for five-plus seasons is outrageously good.
But, as good as this team has been, this is the monster the NFL has built. Consumers are taught to ingest the product at a frenetic pace, and they are supposed to be able to suffer the downturn of their teams' fortunes and not utter a single discouraging word?
This is not fans alone on the range; rather, this is the life-and-death product we communally follow every Sunday, Monday and Thursday. And during time off for good behavior, there are coaches' shows, experts' shows and players' shows. I haven't even factored in the craziness of fantasy football -- God forbid you should have a player on your fantasy team that is playing against your home team.
This is for all the football fans out there that call talk shows and show their passion by saying smart and stupid stuff. This is for all the Facebook fans who spit out their nervous reactions play after play. It's OK to be uptight; it's OK to feel like criticizing is a large part of being a fan.
Since they arrived at their new stadium in Baltimore, the Ravens have done an excellent job at boiling down fan behavior to a simple mantra: Have fun, root hard, show respect for the fans around you, but don't be a JERK.
When it comes to this issue of who the good fans are, I'll take the passionate fans who state their piece fairly and emotionally rather than the underzealous ones who feel their breed of fan behavior is the only right way to root.