Every season for the Detroit Lions is a little bit different. The names change, records change—so do circumstances and general sentiments on the team.
But even with all those annual changes, there are some things Lions fans say every single year.
Fans are familiar with the arc of the typical Lions season, which goes something like "boundless optimism-tempered expectations-denial while clinging to unlikely playoff scenarios-bitter draft watch." And because that progression is so normal, there are certain tropes that have sneaked their way into a usual Lions discussion.
Of course, depending on the time of year, these can be positive or negative, but there's one thing I want to point out before getting started.
"Same old Lions" will not be making an appearance on this list. It is a phrase many Lions fans are familiar with, but it's not something Lions fans say—it's something Lions fans have said to them. Fans know that even though the team is bad more often than it is good, it is always at least a slightly different experience.
There's nothing "same old" about them.
That being said, here are five things that will most likely come out of someone's mouth when you talk about the Lions.
Is it that the Lions simply don't draft enough offensive linemen?
Or is it that Lions fans are absolutely never satisfied with the line's construction?
Admittedly, it has been a while since the Lions sent an offensive lineman to the Pro Bowl, but the unit as a whole has generally been ranked highly, especially in pass protection.
Of course, this sentiment doesn't apply across the board. Different people advocate different needs in each draft. But regardless of the team's construction, somebody is always calling for a new offensive lineman.
2007 was a special season. After nearly a decade of post-Barry Sanders slumping, the Lions finally started to look like they had a good team put together.
The team started 6-2, and it looked like the playoffs were practically a foregone conclusion.
Over the next few games, the Lions' playoff chances continued to slip. Eventually, it wasn't about how close they were to getting in, it was how close they were to being eliminated from playoff contention. Even at 6-8, the Lions were in the "still alive" bracket, even though everyone knew better.
Generally speaking, the point of mathematical elimination from the playoffs is also the point at which draft talk fires up, and Lions fans start talking about which first-round pick would "fix" the team.
This is something that happens relatively often, which is to say every year since 1999 except one (2011-12). Oftentimes, Lions fans simply hope that it happens in December, so they can enjoy most of the season, though that's only when expectations are extremely low.
Whether warranted or not, Lions fans carry the type of "us against the world" mentality that leads them to believe that the NFL and its referees are out to get them at every turn.
This sort of mentality leads to a lot of observations of double standards.
They wouldn't have ruled that a catch for the Lions.
They would have called that a personal foul if Ndamukong Suh made the tackle.
If that had been Tom Brady getting hit like that instead of Matt Stafford, the NFL would have suspended the defender.
In retrospect, look at this clip of Suh hitting Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. He grabs him up high, keeping his arms down, at which point his helmet pops off after hitting a different defender. Suh completes the sack in a relatively tame way, but the Bengals were awarded a 15-yard penalty for some reason.
Is that a penalty on most other players for most other teams? You be the judge (like I have to tell you).
It's kind of a fallback for when fans can simply no longer bear to watch the Lions.
In the last decade, the Lions have made the playoffs once. The Detroit Red Wings haven't missed the playoffs in twice as long. So when the Lions are really bad, fans can usually switch their focus and take solace in the fact that the Red Wings are good.
In the second-most recent instance of the Lions playing a home Monday Night Football game (2001), a "Let's Go Red Wings" chant actually broke out in the stands of the sold-out Pontiac Silverdome as the Lions fell 35-0 to the St. Louis Rams.
This isn't exactly the most honorable thing Lions fans do or say, but it has become a defense mechanism for when the bad times roll.
For a long time, the Lions' rallying cry was a hearty "Fire Millen!"
And then 2008 happened. The Lions actually fired Matt Millen, and Lions fans turned their attention elsewhere—generally to firing someone else.
Shortly after Jim Schwartz took over as Lions head coach, the attention turned to firing leftover special teams coordinator Stan Kwan.
There is a separate category entirely for those calling for the Ford family to sell the team, though those tend to carry similar sentiments.
Now, granted, these movements tend to consist of anonymous blathering by Internet tough guys. Not a single link above leads to a comment that doesn't appear to have been borne by short-sighted, momentary rage.
Yet, these are very real sentiments posited by real people. Whether warranted or not, Lions fans, in some capacity, generally have the desire to get someone on the team fired.
Lions fans are an amusing lot to poke fun at, from both within and outside their ranks. The team is generally bad, and lately they've even generated ill will with their on- and off-field actions (however overblown the reports).
That said, the whole reason the team still exists is because the fans have continued to believe through the toughest of times. It isn't easy taking gut punches season after season, but Lions fans endure for the hope that the next season, the next game, even the next play, will be better than the last.
Some of the abuse Lions fans take is a result of the Lions' play. Sometimes it's other teams' fans saying things they can't defend (if someone said the Lions were terrible in 2008, how could you have responded?), or even being made the butt of jokes on late-night TV.
Still, Lions fans' faith in the team is never really shaken.
The only real question for Lions fans is whether they're going to be good this season, or in some future season. There are moments of anger and table-flipping rage, and even the contemplation of giving up entirely.
But if you were going to give up on this team, you would already have done it by now. You're in this for the long haul, or else you wouldn't be reading this.