The Lions need to be hated.
And I’m not talking about the “I’m from Chicago, therefore I don’t like any team from Detroit” kind of hate, either. I’m talking the mid 90’s Dallas kind of hate. I want that New England-from-three-years-ago kind of resentment.
In my 27 years of being a sports fan, I’ve come to notice one reoccurring fact in almost every sport:
People can’t stand watching great teams win.
Now, I realize that every team has fans. The “America’s Team” Cowboys, the Yankees, hell, even the “Miami Three” will have plenty of followers. But teams that can consistently win seem to be consistently despised by the masses… And that’s what I want from my football team.
Talk to anyone from outside of Michigan about the Lions, and for the most part the sentiment is always the same; “the Lions? Who cares about the Lions?”. If that is to change, Detroit need’s something that many fans don’t even consider to be in the realm of possibility anymore, and that is a dominant football team.
Detroit fans are so used to having bad teams that it seems like if this year’s Lions were to finish 9-7 and narrowly miss the playoffs that I could expect to see a three day celebration in the streets followed by a parade down Woodward. But ask how they would feel if the Lions went 14-2, 13-3 and went to the Super Bowl and most fans can’t even process it.
True, with the Lions past it makes it hard to even consider such a feat, especially with how much we have all been burned in the past. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a glimmer of hope out of this team only to have it instantly extinguished by reality.
I thought the Lions going to the playoffs without Barry showed that they were only a player or two away from dominance. Wrong. I thought Joey Harrington was the Pro Bowl caliber Quarterback that would finally lead my team to the Promised Land. Oops. I thought starting a season with six wins showed that my Lions were finally out of the cellar and on their way to shattering records and playing years of competitive football. Well, I guess I got part of that right, although not the exact record I wanted.
And now here I sit, cornbread in one hand and Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid in the other, seeing yet another team that fills me with optimism about the future. Young brash quarterback. Flashy running back. All star type wide out. Tenacious and mean front four.
And just like a bad girlfriend, I can’t help but to fall back in love with the team that has shunned me so many times before.
This Lions team could be the start of something special.
And for all of our sakes, I pray to God they are hated.