It was March 11. The Detroit Lions are just a little over two months removed from the worst season in NFL history. 0-16. I don’t live in Michigan so I heard all the jokes even from people I don’t even know.
I still wore my Lions hat and got the looks. People see the hat and they just laugh. They are truly surprised to see a Lions fan. The “perfect season,” taunts my co-worker.
So what’s so important about March 11? I read on mlive.com about rumors of the Lions new logo and that everything is on sale at the team’s website, so I take a look. It’s true, everything is 75 percent off but I have a tough decision to make.
My wife is five months pregnant with our first child. A son!
The infants section of the on-line store has several items for under $10. Can I do this to the kid? Will he be destined for ridicule if I dress him in Lions onesies, little socks and put a plush “Roary” mascot in his crib?
I am 30. There is no going back for me. I can take it. I was born a Lions fan. I lived in suburban Detroit for the first eight years of my life—the greatest sports town in the world.
Did I know this at eight years old? Of course not, but I had two older brothers who remained die-hard fans after our move to Lancaster, PA—Eagles country with a few Steelers fans thrown in. I never really had a choice. I would remain a Detroit fan.
Barry Sanders would become a Lion soon after our move. They weren’t so bad. Six playoff appearances in the '90s (my most crucial formative years for developing fan hood) didn’t hurt.
Never mind the putrid history; we had the greatest running back of all time.
As I watched football the most exciting thing for me was when the scores of other games were shown at the bottom of the screen (this is the early '90s there was no Internet, only dorks had heard of fantasy football, and scores were not constantly scrolling).
Other than Thanksgiving and those seven playoff games—in six appearances (non-Lions fans can do the math)—I didn’t get to see them play all that often. I still don’t, yet I remain a loyal fan.
I can’t shake the Lions. My brother and I have talked about how we want to cheer for another team, but it is not possible.
There is no stirring up passion for another team or another city. Roots are important. I will always be a Lions fan. Terrible quarterbacks, worse coaches, and the most inept GM in the history of sports cannot change this.
My son will have to accept this. Eventually, he will make his own fanhood decisions, but not without heavy influence from me. Do I Dare? That was the question I emailed my brother on Mar. 11.
He responded “Do you really want your son starting life under that abuse/curse...dress him in Wings stuff, even Pistons, Tigers, UM would be okay. Wait a few years for the Lions stuff.” It was a typical Lions’ fan response, lament the past and the present, yet despite year after year of disappointment a glimmer of hope remains.
Why? I can’t explain it, but what I do know is “Roary” is in my son’s crib right now and in a few weeks, he’ll be wearing that Lions onesie.