A young Lions fan unencumbered by the teams dismal past.
My name is Daniel Muth and I am a Lions fan.
That's a pretty good place to start and probably is how all new members of the Detroit Lions community should introduce themselves when they join.
After all, this is more or less the AA of fandom, where we commiserate with one another week after week about our life-altering addiction to a team that seldom delivers the euphoria of a legitimate drug, but is awfully heavy on the morning-after doldrums.
The difference, of course, is that none of us are trying to kick the habit, and instead take a perverse pride in riding out the down years, displaying our true Honolulu blue fandom, and waiting for the day when it will be our team lifting up the Lombardi trophy—our shouts of jubilation echoing in the halls of glory.
Even the most cynical among us has this dream and it keeps us going, but sometimes the losing does too.
There are times when I've heard a fan of a bad team complain about their luck, the calls and their terrible management, and have shut them down with the old, "Try being a Lions fan."
I say it with pride. And they stop complaining.
Nobody has had it worse than us, and I've got to admit that at times I've taken pleasure in that.
I mean if you're going to be bad, you might as well be the worst, and the Lions pepper the NFL record books with gaudy testaments to their futility.
Many of us think that's starting to change and see a lot of talent on this young team.
And heck, we just won our first inter-division game in three years, starting our third string QB and displaying a defensive line that is poised to take its position among the league's best.
There are plenty of "ifs" of course, including our franchise quarterback's fragile health, but enough of a core to be truly optimistic.
And that brings me to my point.
I'm about to be a father.
My wife is well into the second trimester now and we're telling people.
And so, when I came across the Pure Michigan spoof on crazy Lions fans (see on right) I actually paused for a second and wondered if it was really fair for me to push the Detroit Lions on my unborn child.
Doesn't he or she deserve better?
Shouldn't my goal be to lift my child up above the sludge of fandom that has dominated my existence so that they might reach for something more hopeful and ultimately attainable?
What will I be welcoming into the world?
Heck, even Philadelphia is pretty close.
And shouldn't I, as a caring father, encourage the association with these teams, so my child can bond with kids at school and lead a life with considerably less strife than that of the old man?
In a word...NO!
There are many reasons for my stand here and I will do my best to enumerate them below.
1) Though I've always been a subscriber to the belief that you should root for the team where you're from (how else to rationalize being a Lions fan), I also have bought into the argument that "my dad liked them growing up."
So as a guy that has a considerable affinity for my own Dad, I can honestly say that if he were anything other than a Lions fan, I may have followed suit. The times we spent lounging on the coach on Sunday afternoons watching the Lions were great bonding times for us, and beyond that, the Thanksgiving tradition associated with the team, often brought the whole family together.
Had that all been centered around another team, I'll bet my allegiance might be different today.
So I think I give my kid a legitimate out when explaining to the neighborhood children why the Lions are the team of choice, and given the team's current state, there will be no accusations of bandwagon fandom—though hopefully that could change!
What will my child's experience with the Lions be like?
2) I want my child to be a comfortable outsider, and rooting for the Lions in enemy territory can instill that quality.
In a world of peer pressure, social ostracization and mob mentality, I think it's important for a kid to do some things that not everyone else is doing. Granted, you want them to get along well with others too, but I think a good way to instill a little backbone is to get them rooting for the Lions.
It teaches persistence and loyalty, and would give my kid a good opportunity to defend convictions. And if my kid ever got sent home from elementary school one day for decking someone who said the Lions stink, sure I would instill the appropriate discipline, but secretly I'd be beaming with pride.
Rooting for the Lions makes you both tough and hopeful, and those are two pretty good things to be in this topsy-turvy world.
3) Let's be honest, there's a pretty good chance that my child will not have to witness what we've seen for the last ten years or so. In that time, Detroit has rewritten the record books for dismal play, but at this point, seems to be on the rise to mediocrity if not excellence.
The book is still out on exactly how far they'll climb, but I think I can state with certainty that there isn't another 0-16 season on our immediate horizon. Given this reality, it really isn't that cruel to push the Lions on my unsuspecting newborn.
And though I know in the final analysis it will be his/her decision to make about whether to root for the Lions, or heck, even be a fan of football, I'll be doing my best to make that decision easy.
Maybe a soft fluffy Lion as the favorite stuffed animal and a mobile of dancing Lions hanging above those innocent, wide staring eyes.
Probably a Lions outfit or two, and definitely a Lions wool cap, and plenty of access to Barry Sanders highlights and exposure to the wrath of Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh.
And we'll go to a game or two.
And if all that doesn't work, well, what can you do?
In the end, I'm mostly just glad the little tyke is coming, but there ain't nothing wrong with hedging my bets for another little Lions fan.