Detroit Lions: Open Letter to Fans—Enjoy This Time and Team

Jay Wierenga@@JayWierengaCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2011

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 19:  Fans of the Detroit Lions show their enthusiasm during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Here is the biggest difference between Michigan sports fans and those out here in Portland. When one of our teams is on the verge of being over-hyped, it makes us excited, not scared.

In fact, I would say that the entire Midwest is like this. People from the Midwest tend to be humble and hard-working, if not set in their ways. People in Portlandia are more focused on the next "new" thing that they can get excited about.

But once everyone else gets excited about it, they recoil and become fearful. I watched this happen last year as well as this year with their beloved Oregon Ducks. As soon as everyone else realizes that they are good, the fan base becomes certain that something bad was about to happen.

It almost is like an American hanging out with a bunch of Europeans. In my experience, Americans guard their opinions around Europeans because they are fearful that their cross-Atlantic counterparts are more educated, and therefore they run the risk of being made fun of for their views.

Oregon fans are fearful that someone in the room is going to call them out as a fraud. This year it happened quicker than last year, and so next year they will be petrified if they are ranked in the top five again.

But think about teams from the Midwest that have been hyped. Michigan and Ohio State have had preseason hype about their teams and it emboldens them. Same with the Pistons and Bulls. And if you found a humble Wings fan in the last decade they were probably the only one.

The one exception to this rule has been the Lions. Lions fans are perpetually pessimistic.

Sure, there are reasons to think that this franchise is cursed. But everyone thought that the Rams were cursed too before they won it all. And if you knew someone that thought the Patriots were anything less than a walking black cat in New England, they were probably lying.

A cursed team is only cursed until it wins.

That is why it has been such a fun ride so far in this truncated offseason. The hype machine has turned its attention towards the Lions. Our beloved cursed team is America's sweetheart pick right now.

So where are the detractors? They are out there, but they are more than overwhelmed by the suddenly optimistic majority.

This is a team that everyone is excited about. It allows me to write articles comparing Matthew Stafford to Dan Marino with only minimal scorn. In fact, the overwhelming response I got from my article between twin "printings" online with B/R and the Detroit Free Press was that Stafford would be better because he would actually win a Super Bowl.

Now that is atypical Lions optimism.

So my advice to those of you that are still worried on the eve of the game is simple: enjoy this.

It won't last forever. Teams are only in this spot for a short period of time. Next comes true over-exposure, then the backlash. The media builds only in order to tear down.

But right now, even fans of our rivals are kind of pulling for us.

So embrace this. Wear your Lions gear with pride, and let the bandwagon fans feel welcome.

Sure, we could be setting ourselves up for disappointment, but who cares. Who really wants to live life as a pessimist.

We are Michiganders, and above that, Americans. Being optimistic is in our nature.

Even if we just so happen to be Lions fans.