A quick look at our Google Analytics dashboard tells me that roughly 48% of our readership hails from North America, with the majority of that coming from the northern two thirds of the New World. Given that today is Thanksgiving, I can only assume you're catching this in between your second and third serving of turkey while keeping an eye on the flotilla of pies waiting on the kitchen counter, or the mile high pile of cannoli, if your family is anything like mine.
There is, of course, an alternate scenario, the one in which you've cloistered yourself far away from the family drama. Maybe this was the year your cousin came back from university with a questionable piercing, or your dad is talking about getting a motorcycle to forestall the advancement of old age, or maybe the true nature of Aunt Jane's special friend was finally revealed, much to the chagrin of your anachronistic and, let's face it, bigoted grandmother.
Ah, Family. Can't live with ‘em, can't...someone help me here.
Whatever the case may be, by now you've safely sheltered yourself in a broom closet somewhere, seeking sanctuary in your favorite digital church, and for that, we thank you. But, given that this is the high holy day of indulgence in America, you can probably understand why this place is a ghost town right now. However, if you're not from the U. S. of A or C-Eh-N-eh-D-eh, I'll refer you here for the somewhat dubious history of this holiday.
In terms of quasi-journalistic sites such as these, and really the entire internet, you're going to be inundated with a litany of "what we're thankful for" type of posts, so far be it from me to thumb my nose at history or even come up with an original idea. And despite the colossal cock up we just witnessed on Tuesday, we still have many blessings for which to be thankful.
So, here it is, a giving of thanks, CdT style. This list is by no means exhaustive, of course; consider it a smattering of ideas to help you pass the time before you draw blood at your local Walmart to get your hands on that new Lite Bright.
He's fast, furious, talented and looks like he might be useful in a bar fight, all worthwhile character traits, if you ask me. Nainggolan does so many things on the pitch and does them so well, that we tend to overlook how good he is in his own right. If only he were more selfish, he'd be a PR-man's dream come true; his style, background, social media presence and combustibility on the pitch could make him a global star. But he's not, at least not yet.
Nainggolan is as self-effacing as the covert agents from which his moniker, Ninja, is derived. Nainggolan simply gives his all for the crest, doing all the little things that allow Miralem Pjanic and Totti (among others) the room to move, as well as relieving some of the defensive pressure on DDR. On top of all that, he's added a futher layer of offensive refinement to his game this season. Simply put, he was the perfect addition at the perfect moment and Rome seems to be the ideal incubator for his still burgeoning talents.
Bombast and hyperbole aside, there can be little doubt that Roma found the right steward in the Bostonian. After years of flirting with the Soros' of the world, as well as the occasional liaison with far flung oil barons, Roma seems to have found in Big James the perfect combination of ambition, prudence and know-how. The plan is pragmatic, measured and realistic. The Stadio della Roma, though suffering from occasional bouts of bureaucratic stagnation, is inching closer towards reality, while Roma's return to the Champions League provides the dash of cash and PR the club so desperately needed.
Pallotta's stated mission of making Roma a powerhouse initially seemed like 90% bluster, but the benchmarks he established for this project (new kit manufacturers, a return to the CL, a heavy investment in youth, and a club-owned stadium) are realistic, ambitious and, most importantly, achievable.
In fact, one could even argue that the club is ahead of Pallotta's timeline. Juventus seems more beatable than in years past, Roma's youth is slowly creeping its way into the first team and the brand is slowly proliferating across the Atlantic, and it's all thanks to a man with a unique combination of ambition and rationality....in Rome, imagine that.
No disrespect to Kappa or Adidas or last season's unknown manufacturer, but win, lose or draw, you can't help but marvel at how sleek those kits are, even the black ones. I, for one, would like to offer further thanks to James Pallotta for not ruining those with a kit sponsor. Sure, we could probably use the money, but keeping it fresh and clean just looks better.
Daniele De Rossi
Yes, he's been a bit erratic this season, but we should be forever grateful that Danielino stayed true to his roots when the "Daniele De Rossi will leave Roma" storylines became a right of passage every summer for, oh, the past decade. Even when he was being jerked in and out of the lineup during Zeman's ill-fated return to Roma, his commitment and passion for the club never wavered. We've seen DDR go through some ups and downs over the past two or three seasons, but he's always rebounded and reminded us of what makes him so unique; he's as critical to Roma's success as he ever was and, just as he always does, he will rise to the occasion.
They say the whole world needs an anthem, and Roma has two fantastic ones, whether they were explicitly written about the club or not, they've been co-opted and assimilated into the Roma ethos.
You won't find anything remotely resembling jazz on my phone, especially not anything produced after the 60s, and definitely not anything classified as light jazz, but both Grazie Roma and Roma, Roma, Roma give me Goosebumps anytime, anywhere; the manner in which they capture the tenor of this team and it's fans is impossible to describe, so I won't even try. Just enjoy.
What can you even say? And for that matter, what even needs to be said at this point? His is a career unparalleled in modern sports; we can only pray that it has an ending befitting his selflessness and excellence.
The Departed and Those that Never Were
Antonio Cassano, Stefano Okaka, Philippe Mexes, Erik Lamela, John Arne Riise, Ludovic Giuly, Bojan, Giorgio Chiellini, Gianluigi Buffon, and so on and so forth. Different names, of course, and drastically different careers; some starred, some floundered and some may have changed the course of the club's history. Wringing our hands over these alternate time lines is, in a sick way, one of my favorite parts about being a Roma fan; we can't buy titles, so these near misses and never weres resonate beyond simple speculation, for better or worse. Just imagine how differently Tuesday would've gone had Roma been able to snare Gigi, or how the last decade would've changed if Cassano hadn't gone batshit crazy.
They're just thought exercises, but these hits, misses and never was's (no squiggly red line, its a word) are ingrained in the culture of the club. When you can't gloss over mistakes with heaps of cash, the fates of players on the fringe can dramatically change your bottom line, your history and your culture, but would you really want it any other way?
The Church Itself
Several years ago, I toyed with the idea of jotting down a string of thoughts on what had quickly and unequivocally become my favorite football team, but I was far from an expert at the sport and was uncertain if anyone at any time or anywhere would actually read it. Fortunately for me, I stumbled across the previous iteration of CdT, and even more fortunate for me, Chris actually needed some help keeping the bandwidth moving, so I was able to merge my passion for the sport and for the club with an established audience. And here I am nearly three years later running the joint, and we're doing quite well.
So, in that vein, I'm thankful for Dhaw's nearly untapped reservoir of Roma knowledge, Masonio's wit and insight on all matters large and small, Sam's always evocative take on matches and his uncanny ability to capture the mood of the room, and Jonas'....well for being Jonas; none among us can reflect on what Roma means and how our collective sickness fits into the broader world quite like he can. And for everyone else who contributes from time-to-time, I am quite thankful.
As much as I'd love it to be, this isn't how I make my living, so finding the time to put up something with a shred of intelligence and insight can be a challenge, particularly now with Roma's congested schedule, so having such a great crew to lean upon has been a godsend.
And, of course, we're all thankful for this community, which, naturally, would not be possible without our parishioners. So whether you bombard us with gifs or view from a far, thank you for reading, for commenting and for spreading the gospel. CdT is only as strong and as vibrant as the people who read it; so in all sincerity, thank you for making us part of your Roma routine, speaking of which...
Last but not least, and might I add, uh, duh, the club itself.
It's nearly impossible to articulate, but this club has a way of getting to you, of making you forsake all others, and I'm not even talking about football clubs. I'm continually shocked at how all other sports have fallen by the wayside since I dove headlong into this passion project. There was once a time when I could name every single player on the New York Giants roster, where they went to college, how long they've been in the league, how many felonies they'd been charged with, but no longer. To be a Roma fan is an all-encompassing experience, often at the expense of other pursuits.
You can't nail it down, nor should you even try, Roma just gets inside of you. It could be Totti's peerless grace on the pitch, De Rossi's boundless enthusiasm, Alessandro Florenzi's boyish smile, or the fact that this club once thought it was a good idea to actually pay Simone Loria to play football. But whatever it is and whatever it includes, no matter how sublime, ridiculous or gut wrenching, you wouldn't have it any other way.
So, thank you Roma, thank you CdT, and thank you all for giving me and us a platform to celebrate this club we love so dearly.