Confessions Of A Jaromir Jagr Apologist

I'm sitting at my desk wearing a Jaromir Jagr t-shirt.

On the back is a large, poorly-applied No. 68. Above it, in considerably smaller letters, is the surname "JAGR."

On the front is a penguin wearing skates and holding a hockey stick.

It's a weird, conflicted, complicated place to be, in my mind, as it attempts to maintain a relatively blind loyalty to Jagr. One of the contradictory few in a flock of Penguins supporters.

Over the summer, that devotion was tested. Jagr looked to be signing with the Penguins. Things were good.

He signed with the Flyers. Things turned bad.

I felt tortured, betrayed by the man who, for a decade, I'd consistently and vociferously defended. I wrote mean things about him. I said that he committed one of the worst betrayals in recent sports history.

I knew what it meant to hate him, to be one of the persons who booed him ever since he was traded to Washington for some ABBA cassettes and tin foil.

He supposedly looked good in the preseason. I ignored it. His scoring touch still proved to be vivid when games started to count. I closed my eyes, put a finger in each ear, and made loud noises.

Then I watched HBO's NHL 24/7. Jagr in orange. It didn't suit him.

But there he was. Grinning that big, toothy grin. Somehow his teeth were white as snow. And he's been playing professional hockey for 23-plus years?

Flyers players and coaches then shared stories and anecdotes about Jagr. About the honor of playing with a living legend like him. About his unparalleled work ethic. About that something extra he brings to the team.

He talked to the media after his morning skate in Pittsburgh on Thursday and attempted, for something like the 700th time, to give a nuanced explanation, in a second language, about why he chose Philadelphia over Pittsburgh, something I don't think he's even sure of.

I was reading between the lines. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right. Nobody's going to know. Bottom line, I am here, you guys are over there. I'm going to come to the game. Everybody's going to hate me. And I still have to play.

Dejan Kovacevic went on 105.9 The X to discuss Jagr's statements with Mark Madden. Kovacevic described Jagr as a nonsensical and as a 40-year-old man-child. A guy who never grew up. Madden agreed. They were probably right.

My eyes squinted while my brain deciphered what auditory content my ears were receiving. I didn't like what I was hearing. My skin started to turn a bright shade of green. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

And, apparently, the one way to make me angry is to talk bad about Jagr, regardless of the accuracy of the opinion.

Okay Jags. All is forgiven. "Forgive and forget" is how it goes, right? I'll try to forget the bad parts as fast as I can.

Seinfeld was wrong. Sometimes sport transcends laundry.

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