Meow Mix: And Still They Came

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Meow Mix: And Still They Came
(Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images)

The rain came down from the puffy grey heavens dusting the dirty concrete until it glimmered something like silver.  And though the skies enveloped the sun such that it was impossible to tell the time of day, for the faithful that stood in line to catch a glimpse at the revamped Detroit Lions there was nothing but true Honolulu blue in their hearts.

And still they came.

They came despite the proclamations of a loud and growing contingent of spoiled NFL fans who feel that the futility of the Detroit Lions no longer merits a Thanksgiving day game, oblivious to the fact that the Lions haven't been given a Monday night game since 2001, oblivious to the fact that without the Lions there would be no Turkey-day games at all, oblivious to the fact that the Detroit faithful deserve what they invented.

Or more sinister, in full knowledge of these things, yet uncaring.

And still they came.

They came despite the trashings of the Detroit fanbase by professional and amateur writers alike, for booing at the team as if they wouldn't boo 0-16, for screaming "FIRE Millen!" as if they wouldn't have yelled the loudest, for organizing marches and dinners and websites to try to force the hand of a distant and uncaring owner.

They failed to notice that we were still there, still hoping, and still caring.  Would they have cared after all these years?

And still they came.

They came despite the fact that the Lions are rebuilding again, just as they're rebuilding every year, just as they were rebuilding through the entire Barry Sanders era, just as they've been rebuilding since the day Bobby Layne left town in a fit of ire.

"The Lions won't win for 50 years!"  He decreed, filled with the Farve-like bitterness of an athlete betrayed by his team, and for once God listened, unleashing his biblical plagues upon the Detroit Lions.

And still they came.

They came in the full knowledge that the Lions still have a lot of work to do; that their offensive line is not up to snuff, that their defensive line put on the worst display in the history of the league last season, that our promising rookies always seem to get injured, paralyzed, killed, or bust.

Those that stood in line in the Michigan rain were there with their eyes wide open not shut.

They came despite the disparity of the economic turmoil around them, they came despite the temptations of a world that tells them to root for winners not losers, they came despite the swirling gale of defeat, the dearth of success, and the knowledge that the team still has the full hill to climb if it ever wants to stand on top.

They came to see a practice.

We talkin' bout practice Allen Iverson?

Yeah, practice.

They cheered for every good play, let out nervous groans when the play went badly, and got almost boisterous on occasion, when their first round pick Matthew Stafford zipped a particularly impressive pass down field.

They shook hands with each other, draped arms around their sons and daughters, and smiled genuine smiles at one another, reminiscing about the teams past and surmising about its future.

And one can't help but feel that something magical happened that day in the Michigan rain, amidst the stack of nature and economy and history and woe.

Hope has returned to the land of the destitute.

And still they came...15,000 strong.

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