As I was answering the truly well though-out and engaging comments on my most recent Detroit Lions article, and watched the number of reads climb into the thousands, it struck me that people are honestly hopeful about the Lions again and it's starting to show up on our boards.
For many of us who have been associated with this excellent and appreciated forum for the amateur sportswriter, interest in the team has waned over the last few years, and the number of Lions fans actively participating has dwindled away.
Sometimes it felt like we were talking to an empty room.
I always understood why of course. It wasn't that fans had deserted the team, it was that there was really nothing to talk about. It gets depressing talking about futility too much and if you read my wrap-up of the 0-16 season , it has the tenor of a death march.
But then Millen got fired and we all rejoiced.
And then Mayhew got hired and we all groaned.
And then Lions fleeced the Cowboys in the Roy Williams trade and we started to take notice.
And then the team made some other great free agent moves, including dumping Cory Redding's contract to Seattle and getting Julian Peterson in return.
We had a solid draft that gave the team an infusion of young, possible pro-bowl caliber talent, and we started to believe.
We tempered this enthusiasm with the cold reality that the team still had a lot of holes to fill, but were still somewhat disappointed with the 2009 record, and the boards quieted down to a dull whisper by season's end.
Nonetheless the seed had been planted.
Perhaps our record didn't say it, but we all saw the mighty potential of our young stars, we all saw the unexpected savvy of our new general manager, and we all saw management opening up the pocketbook, taking advantage of the uncapped season to lure solid free agents to Detroit.
And for the last couple months the Lions site at Bleacher Report has been rivaled by none. Not only have we had a number of great new writers start marketing their wares, there's been an explosion of optimism from a long silent fanbase that's been waiting for something good to talk about.
And somehow while I was sitting at my computer today reading a couple articles, a Christmas song popped into my head and just stayed there:
"It's the most, woondeerful tiiiiiiiime, of the yeeeeaaar!"
Over and over again, and it made me smile.
Granted we always see an increase in team interest around the draft, because let's face it, that is where hope is born then quickly dies with this team in seasons past.
But this year something's different.
This year our hope isn't just a fools hope.
This year there's just something in the air that has me singing Christmas carols.
This year I have faith that whatever present the Lions unwrap on draft day will amount to more than metaphorical tube socks.
A shiny new bike maybe (Suh), or an Optimus Prime to go with our Megatron (Okung)?
Or maybe just an entire set of G.I. Joes (trade down and take the picks)?
Honestly, I would be pretty happy with any of those scenarios and for the first time in a while I'm absolutely certain that it won't be a lump of coal.
So happy holidays Detroit Lions fans!
As with the best of all Holiday tales, this one features a bah-humbug team that may have finally discovered its true meaning.