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I thought the idea was quite funny, and I always enjoy giving deadpan dialog to characters in bizarre situations. My original sketch was quite different from the eventual published version:
I made the ref's comment on his situation even milder than "Tough crowd," and laid out the comic for a vertical panel. However, the sketch presented a couple of challenges. The first was a matter of geometry: the gag would have to be rearranged to accommodate the horizontal layout of a strip. Secondly, the obvious crucifixion imagery would probably whip up legions of angry supplicants, who'd surely find reason for offense and indignation. So, in its original form this would never fly in the daily paper.
Comparing sports fandom to religion is certainly valid, and I make that point often, but the imagery was so loaded that the joke would have been overshadowed, and I'm quite satisfied with the final result.
Thanks to my buddy Armand for the germ of this one! He very modestly told me that he was excited to see his "first gag idea in 60 years" appear as an actual comic.
Check in again tomorrow for another Rhymes With Orange comic by yours truly.