They say that the football is a religion unto itself in the United States.
If you've ever been to a big-time SEC game or tailgated with the Cheeseheads, or gone rabid in the Dawg Pound, you could posit that the fervor displayed might arguably validate this point.
If you've ever stumbled onto an Ohio State–Michigan game you might see some of the same ugliness incurred in the Gaza Strip, with hatred born of neighbors who worship differing mascots.
Only religion can provoke such unreasonable discord, as surely as it can elicit such camaraderie among the myriad of individuals that join the same fraternity.
Black, white, red, yellow, or brown, we all hold hands under our respective banners.
The introspective among us might then ask what exactly religion is, as it often defies logic, fact, or evidence to the contrary. Religion, you see, is all about faith.
In some camps that faith is perpetually tested.
In the same way that I have an unwavering respect for the handful of Jews who have settled in Iran (talk about chutzpah), I tend to gravitate towards those fans who show an unwavering faith in their team despite the futility of the situation around them. Lions fandom does that to you.
In some camps, faith is rarely tested.
Just as it's easy to be a Christian in America, it's easy to be a Steelers fan too.
Just as it's easy to be a Red Wings fan (guilty as charged) it's easy to celebrate Hanukkah in Jerusalem.
The problem with religion made easy is that it tends to lose many of the positive qualities upon which it was founded, and often gets replaced with the very opposite.
Humility becomes vanity, thankfulness becomes greed, vigilance becomes complacency, and we becomes me. We lose perspective on the fragile beauty of the thing itself (be it life or sport), and instead prefer to glut ourselves on the riches they provide.
But every time I find myself caught up in a whirlwind of self-adulation, it is my Detroit Lions that draw me back to my better nature.
It is the Detroit Lions that have taught me the true nature of belief, and in essence, the meaning of faith. This unwavering love that expects nothing in return is my personal trial of Job, and through all the boils and festering lesions, I would like to think that I've acquitted myself admirably.
Yet through it all I'm still here, still hopeful, and still finding reasons to think that the Lions might have a decent season ahead of them.
Though I was in part critical of this year's draft class, I'm starting to suspect that the front office may indeed have a plan.
The pickups of Larry Foote and Julian Peterson surely will upgrade the backer core, while the acquisition of Louis Delmas and Anthony Henry will surely improve a fairly deep secondary.
And somehow the appearance of Matthew Stafford 50 years after the infamous curse of Bobby Layne has me consulting my astrologer to see if the planets are indeed aligned.
I'm starting to believe that a change of preacher might really liven up the schemes and I'm starting to believe that eight years of ineptitude under the vision of a false prophet might finally have the Lions on the path to truth and righteousness.
Yep, I'm starting to believe.
It happens to me every year about this time, and despite the 0-16 record last season and the 50 years in the wilderness, my faith continues to carry me through.
I need to believe in the Detroit Lions.
And for those of you worshiping at the cup of glory let me tell you something...you do too.
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