It’s really easy to forget about why we do this ‘fandom’ thing. So easy.
When seasons end with two wins or a fired coach or a 63-0 loss or something of that nature, it’s easy to sit back and be like ‘why are we doing this to ourselves?’ or ‘is there literally nothing else I can be doing right now?’
And then there comes a moment like Brandon Peters’ dive on a 4th-and-17 with 1:44 left down 15 in the damn Redbox Bowl and you’re like, ‘oh yeah, that’s why I do this.’
I think we all had that moment Monday afternoon.
It literally doesn’t matter if he got the first down (he did), but the fact that he even dove at all. Getting a first down there doesn’t change the final result (maybe Illinois makes it 35-27), but for some reason, Illinois Football means enough to Brandon Peters that he’s willing to put his entire body on the line to make that dive and go for it.
And I love that.
Now, I know there’s nearly 100 players on the team. And from my experiences with plenty of them — i.e. Reggie Corbin — they’re all putting that effort on the line every single play for the fanbase. They want to win. They always wanted to win. And then they won six games this year.
But that Peters play meant absolutely nothing. There’s not a single reason he dives for that and flies in the air. But he did. He dove. And while he didn't get it, he got back up and got back out there a possession later.
Brandon Peters isn’t perfect. He’s not going to lead the Illini to a Rose Bowl. And he’s not going to be a starter in the NFL one day.
But he’s ours. Just like all of the Illini.
They piss us off. They make us smile and cry. And they give us memories.
And sometimes, it takes a stupid little dive in the Redbox Bowl to remind us.