Sage Rosenfels: Unleash the Fury
James Nicoll was in the car, on his way to Caddies on Cordell in Bethesda to watch the Redskins-Eagles game, when he got the call from a friend: Matt Schaub was sick, and Sage Rosenfels was starting at quarterback for the Texans.
"I cut across the grass on River Road, turned around and went back home so I could get his good-luck picture," Nicoll said. "Also, I had to add him to my fantasy teams."
Really? Sage Rosenfels?
Yes. Sage Rosenfels, sincerely.
Nicoll, a Redskins fan, has been following/worshipping Rosenfels, the Redskins' fourth-round pick of the 2001 draft, since the preseason of 2002. Rosenfels led a three-touchdown rally to help Washington overcome a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the visiting Steelers, 35-34, and it was love.
"These guys in front of us were going ape[bleep]," Nicoll said. "They kept yelling, 'Sage Rosenfels, unleash the fury!' He destroyed the Steelers."
But as the Sage saga goes, the Redskins traded away Rosenfels to the Dolphins a few days later, opting to stick with Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews ("[Coach Steve] Spurrier's pets," Nicoll said bitterly).
"After that, [my friends and I] started following Sage's career," Nicoll said. "We were like, 'He has to get a shot to start at some point.' He's too good."
Six years later, the shot hasn't really come. A career bench-warmer, Rosenfels's latest gig is backing up Schaub in Houston.
Nicoll and a friend started a Facebook group -- "UNLEASH THE FURY: the legion of Sage Rosenfels fans" -- in the fall of 2006, hoping to share their unique love of Sage Rosenfels, along with bits of wisdom such as this:
Sage Rosenfels is a hero to all who enjoy football. He has been unleashing his fury on the league in the preseason and in quarters of football at a time as 2nd string mana from heaven.
His passes are carried by angels and his spirals are engineered by his perfect golden right arm. Sage Rosenfels' talent cannot be denied anymore. He is the chosen one. UNLEASH THE FURY SAGE
To date, there are 352 people in the group, myself included (I joined ironically, like everyone else -- or so I thought). Other notable members include Rosenfels's sister, Sasha, and several other family members.
"His sister found the group and messaged us saying it was the funniest thing ever," Nicoll said. "The whole family joined Facebook just to be in the group... We give moral support to the Rosenfels family."
As a starter on Sunday, Rosenfels was nearly flawless for three quarters against the Colts, helping the Texans score 27 unanswered points and looking as godly as ever in the process ("There's a hurricane in Texas, and it's coming out of Sage Rosenfels' arm!" Nicoll shouted to nobody in particular as he watched the game on a small TV in the corner of Caddies. "SAAAGE!").
But, alas; what Sage giveth, Sage taketh away. The Texans lost that game to Indianapolis, 31-27, after Rosenfels fumbled twice and then threw a game-ending pick, all in a span of just four minutes.
"There seems to be a bad luck thing," Nicoll acknowledged later. "But he does what no other quarterbacks will do. He makes tackles, he leaps over players. The way that he plays, you'd think someone would be like, 'Well, he offers us a better shot than, say, Gus Frerotte.' But I also wonder if maybe teams are thinking, 'What, we're going to build our franchise around a guy named Sage Rosenfels?'"
Okay. Very funny. But come on. This has to be a joke. Clearly, it's a joke.
"How is this a joke?" Nicoll said. "I mean, the guy plays football the way it should be played. He's an amazing quarterback."
I pointed out that the Facebook group has a distinct Chuck Norris-like quality to it ("Lupus," "Erectile Dysfunction" and "Bird Flu" are among those listed in the "Diseases Sage Can Cure" thread on the group's discussion board).
"Chuck Norris is fantasy," Nicoll said. "Sage is actually kicking [behind]. I dare Chuck Norris to throw for that many yards."
[Full disclosure: Nicoll happens to be a friend of mine from college. He's known for putting various athletes on pedestals (please see the completely coincidental Steinberg post entitled "Sellers and Superman" as well as the Facebook group, "Gravy Boat: The Mike Sellers Army") and until yesterday, I was fairly certain the whole Sage-Rosenfels-is-God thing was a joke. Now, I'm not so sure. And while it's possible that I'm violating a sacred journalistic code by being too close to the situation, I think it's more important for people to know that a Sage Rosenfels-worshipping group of Redskins fans exists in this kooky world of ours. Brand this blog post with an asterisk if you must; I will not be censored when it comes to Sage.]
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