Friday, July 29, 2005

Innovative Mediocrity

The Lions began camp today. I am excited about the upcoming season. They seem stacked offensively and capable defensively. Still, when I think about the Lions, one of a handful of teams never to play in a Super Bowl, I am reminded of their teams from the past.

Having watched the Lions for 25 years, I can say this. Like few other teams, they invent ways to lose. Like when you trail by five after scoring a touchdown with four minuts to play, and choose to kick the extra point instead of going for two. And then, on the ensuing drive, getting well within field goal range but well outside the end zone.

Watching the Lions means watching them blow double digit leads against Arizona, or having the ball in OT on the six yard line, and throwing an INT to LT who runs it back 100 yards for the win. It means winning the OT coin flip in Chicago, and taking the wind because you think your defense, which has just fallen apart in the closing minutes of the game to give up the tying score, should go back on the field and help the offense get good field position.

I means having your star Running Back, the player many consider to be the greatest running back to play the game, run for -1 yard in Green Bay in the playoffs. And it means beating Dallas on a Monday Night, or beating the unbeaten Falcons in a game they were supposed to lose.

Being a Lions fan means you know that they will give you hope, they will bring the team down the field and get in a position to win. And then getting kicked in the nuts. It is watching the Lions begin their season in Chicago, and score the go ahead touchdown with 1:21 left on the clock. And watching Soldier Field erupt in celebration 75 seconds later when Matt Suhey catches a game winning score.

Yes, the ref blew the coin flip against Pittsburgh, but wasn't that on Thanksgiving, the Lions special day?

It means watching as your coach prays on the sideline as your kicker lines up for a fieldgoal that will put the lions in the next round of the playoffs, and he misses a makeable FG.

It is about knowing history. How Tom Dempsey, a one-legged kicker playing on a team that would win exactly one game that season, won it with an NFL record 63-yarder against the Lions.

It is about remembering the Heisman Trophy winners, like Andre Ware and Chuck Long, who helped define first round QB busts long before Ryan Leaf was even a college player.

There was one day of glory, Eric Kramer's 384-yard performance against Dallas in the playoffs. Negated one week later by a 41-10 thrashing by the Redskins. Which was an improvement over the 45-0 drubbing Washington gave us in week 1 of that season.

Its about Barry Sanders retiring the night before training camp, ensuring another Lions season would be wasted.

And still, for sixteen sundays every winter, we watch. and we hope.


Blogger SportPsych Detroit said...

Being a Lions fan is alot like life...hopes and dreams dashed by the cold reality of bills and families. However, there is joy in mudville, even if it comes from the brilliance of single game individual efforts rather than the joy of a crowning achievement that comes with winning the championship:

Eric Hipple's 4 TD performance against the Bears on Monday Night Football back in 1981, Freddie Scott, Billy Sims, Al Bubba Baker, Jimmie Williams, Doug English, Ken Fantetti, Eddie Murray, James Spider Man Allen...each made memorable plays as members of the Detroit Lions. Barry Sanders made me proud to be from the D (trying to pick out my favorite play is like trying to pick out...uh never mind). so did Keith Dorney, Lomas Brown, Herman Moore, etc.

The list goes on and on of players who gave their all (Chris Spielman) and players whose all just wasn't much (Jeff Komlo). But so what. Being a Lions fan is as close as I'll get to understanding what it's like to be a Cubs fan.

And for me, there is value in that

July 29, 2005 4:41 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

- Being a Lions fan is as close as I'll get to understanding what it's like to be a Cubs fan. -

I like that line.

And I'll keep watching.

My favorite Barry play was the run against the Patriots.

July 29, 2005 4:50 PM  
Blogger SportPsych Detroit said...

The one where he turned Otis Smith inside out and upside down :)

That is in my top 3 along with the 80 yard gallop on one shoe and a similar play (to the Patriots one)against the Bears on Thanksgiving

July 29, 2005 5:20 PM  
Blogger Veev said...

I miss football. How many days until the season starts?

August 02, 2005 2:59 PM  
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