Choker. The worst insult you can through at a professional athlete. Failing in the one moment that matters most despite years and years of success, training, discipline, and sacrifice cuts deeper than anything us normal humans can imagine. Once you’re labeled a choker every accomplishment until you graduate from the Choker’s Club is immediately thrown out as worthless. And it’s almost impossible to shake the public perception, too. Dirk was always seen as this huge choke artist even though he was putting up at least 25 a game in the playoffs (except for one season) and was playing with some bum teammates. Tony Romo botches one snap and throws a couple backbreaking interceptions and his fourth quarter statistics are openly mocked as meaningless despite the fact that they are some of the best ever. The only way out is to win a championship, which is always easier said than done. Most members of the Club never make it out, but recently we’ve had waaaaay too many people leave it. Jay Wright, Sergio Garcia, Romo (retirement takes you into the Retired Choker’s Club, which is still a bad place to be but you’re out of the public eye), the Cubs, the city of Cleveland, it’s just too much. These are some of the pillars of the Choker’s Club. The Club is on the verge of collapse (just like all of their members, am I right? Nobody?) unless some new blood can take the reigns. Someone needs to step forward and remind the world that someone people out there are still willing to lay down when the heat is on. For every Brady there must be a Marino. For every MJ there must be a T-Mac. Who can become the Lee Westwood Memorial Master Choke Artist? There’s still some proud members left, so let’s see who can put together the best case.
For the sake of the Club, the Caps cannot win the Stanley Cup this year. Losing the Cubs and Cleveland has left the Club’s Team Division reeling. They need one constant in this time of change. The Caps need to become the leader of the pack. The other teams need them. Atlanta can’t lead anyone. The Bills are just too depressing. The Vikings have the resume, but they also have too much PTSD. They need the Caps. I need the Caps. Every time the Capitals have the best record in the NHL and lose early and angel gets its wings. Come on, Washington. You know you don’t really want to win.
This is kind of a stand-in for the Falcons and the city of Atlanta in general, but Matt Ryan is our current Lead Choking Dog in the NFL, fair or not. Blowing a 28-3 lead with 20 minutes left in the Super Bowl isn’t the way to graduate from the Club, Matt. Sure, you can blame the play calling if you want, but Matt Ryan was league MVP last year and is the face of the franchise, no one would have been upset if he audibled to a run once or twice.
Any NBA Player Under 6 Feet Tall-
This one hits a little close to home for me since I’m already bracing for a Celtics first or second round loss, but short guys just never come up big (get it? I’m feeling it today) when it matters in the NBA. Not since the original Isiah Thomas has someone 6′ or less lead a team to a title. Celtics Isaiah Thomas stinks in the playoffs because it’s hard to live off a steady diet of floaters from a 5’9″ guy going against 7 footers. Toronto has to put an APB for Kyle Lowry every year in the playoffs. Do I even need to go in to Chris Paul? Allen Iverson came the closest, but even he only made the Finals once. The NBA Playoffs are almost a different sport than regular season NBA, and it’s not friendly for the vertically challenged.
People don’t forget, Courtney.
The saddest members of the Choker’s Club are the truly great ones. It’s even sadder when they have a rival who has won a million championships and is the personification of clutch. It’s even sadder when that rival is in their division and every time they face each other the rival takes them deep (and the rival is a pitcher, not someone who hits 40 homers a year). Thus is Clayton Kershaw’s lot in life. The most depressing and perplexing member of the Club is one of the three greatest left-handed pitchers of all time. His postseason ERA is double his regular season one. He’s impossible to hit in the regular season but turns into a JUGS machine set to 85 MPH in the playoffs. Easily the worst part of Club meetings is when Clayton arrives. The first time he was there, everyone just assumed he’d get out soon. With each passing year, he became more and more entrenched in the Club. Now he never leaves. It’s bumming me out just thinking about it. No one needs a championship more in all of sports.
They were already in the Club, but losing to Barcelona the way they did only solidified it. Every year is the year they finally make an impact in the Champions League, and every year they fail to do so. Like most members of the Club, they dominate lesser competition only to fold the at the first sign of adversity.
This is kind of a futures bet, but as one of the Club’s chief talent scouts it’s my job to predict these things. Having the crazy helicopter dad always leads to a fragile mentality, and he’s got the godfather of helicopter dads. Add together the pressure Lavar puts on him, the bloodlust all the other All Stars will have against him from the moment he steps foot in the NBA, and the fact that he has absolutely VANISHED every time he plays another NBA-level point guard and you’ve got the clearest future member of the Club I can remember. In two or three years he’s probably going to average 17-20 points and 10+ assists and be a staple at the All Star Game. But don’t think for one second he’s going to perform well in the clutch.
Those black jerseys, man.
I feel like I might be forgetting some people, but this is a good snapshot of the Club as it stands in 2017. It’s a little different than what I’ve been used to, but we all have to change with the times. Needless to say the Jets, Bills, and Vikings are still here, but they’re such longtime members they’re practically the wallpaper in the meeting room by now. The Browns and Indians were given a leave of absence as we see if they themselves are chokers or just suffering from the Cleveland Curse (I’m willing to bet the Browns will be back). Every golfer and tennis player is in the Club by default and has to fight their way out. As long as the Capitals don’t win the Cup this year, I think the Club will be fine. They can’t lose three vital teams in a calendar year. Club Chairman Marty Schottenheimer might have to call in a few favors to ensure it doesn’t happen.