Every Now and Then It's Cool That the Detroit Lions Suck.
Every now and then it's cool that the Lions suck.
I bet you gleaned that from the title.
But you're undoubtedly wondering exactly how that could be.
Well into the worst record in the league in the first decade of the new millennium, the Lions have posted a winless season, broken the record for continuous road losses, seem poised to challenge that mark again, and have generally crafted a Greek tragedy that is somehow so absurd that it's nearly comical.
I mean if you can't laugh at the Lions as a true Lion fan, you'll just end up going crazy.
So I don't need to enumerate the many failings of this team, and the many disappointments that we fans bear silently, and how this team tends to rip out your heart and beat it with a shovel, as you gasp the word, "Why?"
There are plenty of answers to that question, some obvious and some not so, that occupy much of our time as a Detroit Lions community, trying our best to grasp at something that might add a sense of order to the chaos, and a sense of hope amidst the despair.
These things we're all too familiar with.
But there's also an upside to being a Lions fan, and though it may not sound like much, it actually makes you swell with pride a little when it happens to you.
Plainly, true fans of other clubs have a lot of respect for Lions fans and they'll go out of their way to tell you so if you're brave enough to flaunt your fandom as you travel around the nation.
I was reminded of this recently, when I took advantage of the latest extravagant snowfall in Virginia (my current residence) and got up in the Mountains for some skiing on some rarely experienced Virginia powder.
I wore my Detroit Lions wool cap of course, feeling somehow that I needed to support the team, and oddly, this cap led me to some of the more interesting discussions of the day.
First of all, I ran into a handful of Michigan folks on the hills, who all jumped at the opportunity to discuss the Lions: what they needed, how they can't even look at Matt Millen without becoming enraged, how they saw the draft shaping up, and any number of tangential Lions jokes or reminiscence about Barry Sanders.
That's one of the cool things about chairlift rides, by the way.
It's one of the few times when a group of strangers get packed together on a ten minute trip that generally leads to conversation.
And the Lions hat is a great conversation starter.
Fans of other teams come out of the woodwork to comment about the Lions as well, and you usually get some props for having the temerity to admit your allegiance to this dismal team.
There are NO Detroit Lions bandwagon fans.
Wearing a Lions cap is so much different than wearing the cap of a winning team because the Lions cap says something about you.
It says that you understand what sports are all about, you understand the double edge sword of competition, and you understand that there's a little more to being a fan than rooting for the team of the moment.
It says you haven't sold out your convictions and it says that you are true Honolulu blue.
If I had to make a decision to trust a random Lions fan or a random Patriots fan it wouldn't even be a decision. I already know that a Lions fan is loyal and will see something through no matter the outcome, whereas we can't be so sure about the fan of a winner.
They could just be another pretender.
This is what draws people to Lions fans.
When I'm at an out of state bar, I always get invited to sit at someone else's table, usually preceded by, "How could I possibly deny a Lions fan," or something to that effect.
Now it could be that people just feel sorry for us, but honestly, I think it's a little more than that.
We're the survivors of a dismal episode.
We're what's left when all the fakes have been drained away.
We're fans, plain and simple, and there can be no deceit in rooting for the Lions.
During my hours on the slopes, I struck up a good conversation with a knowledgeable Cowboys fan and we analyzed the in's and out's of the playoff picture.
When I asked him if he'd been talking to some of the other people I'd talked to that day about their teams he said, "Naw, most idiots don't know a thing about football."
"I figured if you're a Detroit fan, you must be hardcore."
And you know what? He was right.
Without exception they always approached me, always pointed to the Lions cap, and always afforded due respect.
Now I know it doesn't replace the thrill of winning, but isn't it nice to be able to look yourself in the mirror every morning knowing that you aren't a fake?
We're the soldiers that have seen the worst fighting but are still standing.
There is nothing for us left to prove.
And somewhere, somehow, I think we do deserve a little recognition.
So in the Spirit of the Holidays I'd like to wish all of you Lions fans out there a safe and happy New Year.
The Lions may suck but we love them just the same, and there's something rewarding enough just in that.
We're survivors, and we'll be here next year and the year after that, a fraternity of the indefatigable.
Happy New Year my friends!
There's something undeniably cool about being a Lions fan...
...come what may.
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