Time is a burden.
The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer acknowledged as much in defining philosophical pessimism in his day. Seeking to clarify the boundaries laid out by Jean-Jacques Rousseau of object-oriented desire, Schopenhauer instead identified the centrality of the Will itself, the force of desire rather than the object as the core noumenon that guides existence.
Ok. Let's let that sink in before we get to talking about football.
The staff posted their predictions on the final schedule yesterday, and their responses clearly indicate how difficult of a team the 2015 St. Louis Rams are to project. Once again the youngest team in the NFL with an offensive line that took their first snap in their week 1 positions just yesterday and a top draft pick from four months ago predictably sidelined for another month or so, the variance here is overwhelming.
For the last few months, some have criticized me for being negative (and I'm not talking about JoolzMF whose long-running comments gag has become one of my favorite inside jokes on TST in history), for being overly critical in the annual preseason wave of optimism that every fan base is designed to enjoy.
Here's the thing. The Rams exist.
This is a real team on the precipice of moving to Los Angeles.
This is a real team who hasn't had a winning season since 2003.
This is a real team who is escaping the era marked by the #1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Sam Bradford, who played 49 of 80 possible games in his five years ending with a 18-30-1 record and a year and a half absence from regular season football due to a twice-injured ACL.
This is a real team who isn't treating week 1 like week 1.
This is a real team whose course correction requires more of the same with the deck chairs reshuffled.
This is a real team.
Now to some, that may seem like pessimism. To acknowledge the failings of years past, even recent years, feels much more like realism to me, but we're all allowed to develop our own perspectives. What's troubling though is the opposite. The opposite of that pessimism would be optimism. But if that pessimism is also realistic, then that optimism is just ignorant.
It requires a willful ignorance to be optimistic about the 2015 St. Louis Rams.
You have to ignore everything you've seen from the Rams under Jeff Fisher to believe they will finish with a winning record and make the postseason for the first time since 2004.
You have to ignore the 2014 defensive miscues to rely on a 2015 defense constructed of the same personnel that provides the only path to success for the Rams.
You have to ignore the dozen or so question marks on the offensive side that don't have answers and won't get them before the bye at the earliest.
You have to ignore Jeff Fisher's own ignorance of his own conditioning (this is easily his most ignorant, and my favorite, response to any question of his tenure with the Rams).
You have to be ignorant to be optimistic about the 2015 Rams.
Truthfully? I'm jealous of the ignorant. There's a hopefulness and a blind faith that some Rams fans share that I think is oddly inspiring. Something something about the unbreakable human spirit enduring infinite pain.
Which brings us back to Schopenhauer. "The evidence for a purposeless Will at the heart of reality is the constant reassertion of willing after any satisfied desire and the boredom experienced after an achieved end." It never ends. Losses beget wins and wins beget playoff wins and playoff wins beget Super Bowl championship wins and Super Bowl championship wins beget the impossibility of infinite Super Bowl championship wins. This is the NFL's eternal recurrence. Schopenhauer looked at this and screw it all. It's not worth it.
My "pessimism" isn't Schopenhauer's Will over reason. It's Nietzsche's Zarathustra who embodied the "pessimism of strength."
You don't have to agree with me. Honestly, I'd prefer you don't because it would make things very, very boring. But understand I don't need the comforts of a 10-win prediction to soothe me. I'm quite comfortable staring at a 7-9 team and preparing for the next three and a half months of predictable, unexceptional Fisherball with the occasional defensive letdown. We've seen it before.
It's not pessimism. It's realism. And it's ok to admit it.
Time is a burden.