I get it now. Help me.
In 6th grade, I began to really dig my back cleat into the batter’s box of Detroit sports fan hood. I started to learn every player’s name, gain an understanding for every rule, and really comprehend how games were played more than your average “fan.” It consumed me. In those years, I used to listen and read the Sean Baligians and Drew Sharps of the world, with special attention to their takes on the Detroit Lions. The negativity was nauseating. I couldn’t stand it. I freakin’ hated it. How could you be so negative all the time, and even suggest, like Drew Sharp has on many occasions, rooting against your home team. I simply couldn’t understand it. Why all this bitterness? Why was there no positivity? Why couldn’t we just take solace in some big wins, and talk about what we can do to improve?
I get it now, Sean and Drew.
During the 2004 campaign, after a devastating loss at Lambeau Field the week before, the Lions were at home against the Vikings. Trailing by a touchdown late, Joey Harrington, a severe flu and all, led the Lions on a miraculous 2-minute drive to bring the Lions within a point with an extra point pending. They muffed it. They missed the extra point. My dad stood up in obvious frustration and feigned a spitting motion at the television. I sat in shock. It was crushing. It was the epitome of Detroit football culture. Yet, I cared. I was surprised. I was almost hurt.
Flash forward to 2010, and my passion was even more intense. The Lions incredible turn of fortune against the Jets was one of the worst pains I’ve ever felt from a sporting event (perhaps barring the Pistons 9-point lead lead over the Spurs disappearing). Losing your franchise quarterback and a 10-point lead over a Super Bowl contender within 10 minutes, in a game that may have put you on a path to a meaningful Thanksgiving game, was like getting a slap in the face, and then left for dead. And this was 6 years later.
I get it now.
After losing to an 0-8 Bills team in a game no one wanted to win, and then watching today’s Dallas, it would follow logically that I would be destroyed. But I’m not. You may just call it built up immunity, but it feels a lot more like apathy.
I’ve resigned to the fact that there are larger forces at work here. This is not just a turn of luck anymore, it’s supernatural. Whether it’s the referees, or horrendous misfortunes with bouncing footballs, things don’t just line up this way in the Natural World.
Jim Schwartz will give you the same answers as Marinelli, Mariucci and Mornhinweg before him. “We’re so close,” I can hear him saying. We’re so close. A bounce here, a bounce there. We need to eliminate the penalties. We need to close games. We need to “learn how to win.” It’s, pardon my language, bullsh*t. I can’t blame Marinelli, I certainly can’t blame Mooch, and I don’t even blame Millen anymore.
This. Team. Is. Cursed.
I don’t know what the answer is. The Red Sox had these forces at work, too. But I can tell you right now, with this year as the pinnacle example, it doesn’t matter if you have Lombardi, Manning, Sanders and Rice. There would be a new invention of losing every week.
I’ll still watch. It’s my Sunday. While others are in Church, I’m parked in front of the TV or at the stadium. It’s my religion. But I can’t say I care right now. The forces at work have beaten me to hell. Help me. I’ve become what I hate.