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Dear Matt Cassel

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 09:  Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws a pass during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 09: Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws a pass during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Dear Matt,

I don't know what to think right now.  I'm torn between what I thought I knew and what I always wanted to believe. You've got me so twisted up inside right now that I can't sleep at night.  I can't eat.  Sometimes I just sit and wonder to myself what I should do.  You're killing me, Matt.  It was supposed to be over.  I never thought this would happen to me.

(OK, in case you didn't figure it out already, this is a JOKE based on tons of hyperbole and loosely imitating what an ex would say to the significant other that SWEARS they've changed.  Yeah, that's right, I'm writing Matt Cassel something resembling a love letter.  Did it just get weird in here?  I think it did... but let's roll with this and see what happens)

I thought you were the one, Matt.  When we traded for you, I wasn't too sure, but I knew you'd done some good things over there with that ex of yours, the Patriots.  All my friends told me it was a great idea, and that you'd shown you could be the kind of guy who could commit and take us all the way.  "Franchise quarterback" was the word my parents used.  Everyone else was jealous with how easy we got you.  It seemed like it was meant to be.

But then, things started happening.  Bad things, Matt.  Things that made me wonder if this was really the match made in heaven I thought it was at first...

First there was the 2009 season.  I know, I know, you had a rough time of things that year.  The team was in flux, and you had a lot of things working against you.  Against us.  But you still hurt me every time you made a bad pass, every time you failed to get our offense going.  At the same time, though, you kept showing me another side.  Remember the Steelers game, Matt?  Remember the Cowboys game?  You showed me there what I thought was a promise of things to come.  You had me, Matt.  I blamed everyone else for the problems we had, thinking that if you could only get some help, we'd be OK.

Then 2010 started, and things looked more the same than I wanted to admit.  Sure, we were winning, and we were the "it" couple.  But it wasn't because of you Matt.  Everyone else was doing all the work for you.  Dexter, Jamaal, the Brandons, Tamba... It seemed like all your buddies were more concerned with making this work than you were.  I got worried.  I wondered if I shouldn't get out before things got too serious.

But then, what a change!  Oh my goodness, you were like a new man!  Touchdowns everywhere, interceptions nowhere to be found.  Win after win piling up.  I congratulated myself on staying with you through the tough times, and told all my friends what a great QB you are and how lucky I was to have you.  10-6, and playoffs!  You and Bowe, what a duo!

Looking back, though, the warning signs were still there.  They were just covered up with expensive wins and flashy plays, a lot of them being made by your friends.  You never had to do anything really hard, never had to go out of your comfort zone.  I mean, the Seahawks and Cardinals?  Come on, Matt, be honest with me.  You still weren't going through the steps you should have been.  You were still staring down one receiver a play when you know how much it hurts me when you do that.  I ignored it though, because I didn't want to rock the boat.  Things were going so well for us, you know?

Then the Raiders game happened.  Then the Ravens game.  I didn't know what to think.  My old habit of blaming everyone else, like your stupid friends Todd and Scott, and those 5 big fellas you're always hiding behind, was still my reflex.  But I just couldn't help but wondering if you'd ever settle down for me.  In the pocket, that is. 

But I held out hope.  You promised me you'd get some help, that your new friends Jonathan, Le'Ron, and Steve would help us make this work, and your new Counselor, Dr. Zorn, was just the man to solve our problems.  So I stayed the course, because I didn't want to be the kind of fan that just gives up on a good guy because he's had to go through bad times.  "That's not me," I'd tell myself.

A lot of my friends were down on you by then.  They told me to leave you while there was still time.  They told me plenty of QBs would be lucky to have a fan like me, and you were never going to work out long term.  I defended you, because that's what I thought a good fan does.  They defend their QB when he's down and out.  And I thought that you'd prove them all wrong in the end.  You'd come through for me and show the consistency I'm looking for in a fan-QB relationship.

I think I knew, even then, that we might be doomed.  That I was kidding myself.  That my friends were right, and I needed to look out for myself and the team and move on emotionally from a bad relationship.  But the heart wants what it wants, and my heart wanted you to be our franchise quarterback.  So I held on.

But those first two games this year... It was like everything I'd ever been told about you that's bad came true right in front of me.  You didn't take charge when we were in trouble.  You in fact made the problems worse.  Without Jamaal and Tony around, you were just... awful.  To me.  To everyone.  It was like having all that support (Dr. Zorn, Steve, Le'Ron, Big Jon) made you a worse QB instead of a better one.  I was so disappointed.  All those promises down the drain. 

But in a way, I was relieved, because I finally had some closure.  We weren't meant to be, and now I knew for sure.  It was time to move on.  And you know what?  I was OK with it.  I mean, I was hurt, but it was time to move on.  I even started looking around, seeing what other quarterbacks were out there.  There's plenty of fish in the sea, as they say. And given next year's draft, it didn't look like I'd be wanting for suitors.  So while I was sad, I'd decided to try to remember the good times and go live my life.

Then you decided to lead a comeback against the Vikings, and look all right doing it at times.  It made me a little sad, seeing you fight until the end.  But that's all.  I felt nostalgic and allowed myself to think "If only..."  then I moved on with my day.  It felt right, like it was one last present you were giving me before I moved on.

Then Sunday.  Oh, Sunday.  Where did that come from?  4 touchdowns?  Great throws?  A gutsy scramble that helped ice the win?  Looking at more receivers than just one?  Only a couple of bad throws?  I found myself asking, "Who IS this guy?" You were a totally different person out there.  And we WON.  I was so happy for you and so happy for us that I lost all reason and allowed myself to think, "Was I wrong to give up on you?  Is there still a chance for us to make this work?"

Don't do this to me, Matt.  Not again.  Don't make me doubt myself more than you already have.  Some of my friends are starting to tell me I've made a mistake in giving up on you.  I can't stop thinking about those 4 TDs, and how you led us to a 17-point comeback.  I'm scared, though.  Scared that you're just setting me up to get hurt again.  We've been here before, haven't we?

I got your letter, asking me to take you back as my franchise QB.  And I appreciate it.  It's not that I don't WANT to say yes.  But it's too soon, Matt.  You've come this far before, only to relapse into the habits that ruined our relationship. You can't ask me to forget all that after just a game and a half.  I need to see that you're a change QB.  I need to you to prove to me that you won't hurt me again.

I'm not asking that you be perfect.  That's never what I wanted from you.  What I want is that you be the same guy every week.  I want you to avoid those "highs and lows."  I want to see some version of the QB I saw against the Colts every week.  Again, you don't need to be perfect.  Just good.  Every week.

I care too much to totally walk away right now, Matt.  But I just can't take you back, either.  So I'll tell you what... On November 21, we play your ex in front of the entire country.  If you've shown me by then that you can be the QB for me every week between now and then (again, not perfect, but to the standard you've set against the Colts), I'll give you another chance.  I'll meet you at the 50 yard line after the game.  If I'm not there, you'll know why.  I hope I'm there. 

Until then, I'm going to keep myself away from you.  You're no damn good for me right now, Matt.  Try to understand. Don't call me, don't write me.  Just... play.  Play the game to get me back.

Your friend (and hopefully one day your fan again),


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