Six months before the NFL season kicks off, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has guaranteed a Super Bowl. His hashtag-filled tweet will make the rounds today because it is both premature and unexpected.
Miller, one of the best young players in the league, should know better than to make such proclamations. But he’s certainly not the first person to fall victim to the foot-in-mouth disease that’s swept sports in recent years.
Guarantees have become ubiquitous and hollow. Just last year, Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil took out a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer proclaiming his team would scale the NFL’s highest peak. They subsequently lost nine of their first 12 games before finishing 7-9. Kalil suffered a season-ending injury on October which perhaps saved him from widespread condemnation.
But perhaps there’s a different reason he didn’t become a national laughingstock. Perhaps it’s because guarantees have become so ubiquitous that no one takes them seriously in the first place.
When Joe Namath predicted his upstart New York Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, it was revolutionary. When he delivered on the promise, his legend was cemented.
Over time, though, bold predictions have saturated the sporting landscape. As a result, they are less special and – fair or not – less binding.
They now stand with the “us against the world” and “no respect” card as trite and hollow motivational tactics employed by players and coaches alike.
For every success, like Jim Fassel’s 2000 promise the New York Giants would make the playoffs, there’s a miserable failure, like every time Rex Ryan opens his mouth.
Look, there’s a chance Miller makes good on his guarantee. The Broncos were a blown coverage away from the AFC Championship Game and have Peyton Manning as a security blanket. But one wonders if providing season-long bulletin board material is more trouble than it’s worth.
Surely there’s a better way to get the hometown juices flowing.
And then what?
Well, probably nothing.
Guarantees will keep coming—some successful, some not – but our society’s bite-sized attention span will only get shorter. A new crop of future Super Bowls will be won in the offseason.
A litany of aspiring Nostradamuses will have their day and the wheel will keep on spinning unchecked.
With that knowledge, I say predict on, you crazy predictors. No one’s going will hold you to what you say any way.
Except me, of course.