(Author stands in front of the room...)
"My name is Joel. And I'm a Lions fan."
I've been a Detroit Lions fan my entire life. I'm a glutton for punishment. I've endured the worst 10 years a sports franchise has ever endured. I wish I could say it hasn't always been like this, but it pretty much has.
So why pledge my love and devotion to the football equivalent of Ike Turner?
It probably didn't hurt that my first memories of the Lions is the 1991 season. Who would have thought that 18 years later we are still waiting for the next playoff win? Not me. Not at the time, I thought Erik Kramer, Herman Moore and Barry Sanders would provide playoff run after playoff run. I was also 13 years old.
The lows are so low...
Reggie Brown being resuscitated on the field after breaking his neck, Dan Orlovsky stepping out of the endzone and taking away quite possibly the 2008 Lions best chance of a win, drafting Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, etc, etc, etc, Marty Mornhinweg taking the wind in OT...ugh.
But the highs are so darn HIGH...
Barry Sanders blowing out defenders ACL's from 10 yards away with his moves, Corey Schlesinger cracking facemask after facemask in half from his punishing style of play, Kevin Jones running THROUGH one of the most feared linebackers in history in Ray Lewis, Germaine Crowell catching a prayer down the sideline to set up the winning score against the Super Bowl Champion Rams, Barry Sanders rushing for over 2000 yards...listening to my Grandmother cheer on the team before she passed away.
And that's the rub, people. People live and die and never see this team do anything. But every year, we come back and hope. The NFL is built for parity, the Lions are the anomaly. But that's what sucks you in every year. Maybe the 2009 Lions will be the 2008 Falcons? Why not?
If I close my eyes, I can still hear my Grandmother clucking her tongue and saying, "One of these years...one of these years..."
And when one of those years comes around, hopefully I can look at my son (and not my grandson) and say, "It was worth the wait."