Turning 50 years old last year, I found that I was able to put many things into perspective.
I have been happily married for 27 years, I have a good paying job (a blessing in these times), own a nice home in a suburb of Seattle, and have made some great friends.
I went through phases where I jumped on the bandwagon of the Detroit Tigers in their 1968 and 1984 World Series runs. Granted, in 1968 I was only 10-years-old ,but I still remember my favorite player of the time, Micky Stanley, coming in from centerfield to play shortstop. I also remember how that particular team brought a city back together after a summer of tumultuous times.
The 1984 season was just downright magical with the Tigers starting their season going 35-5, and ending with Kirk Gibson hitting that memorable home run against one of the all time great closers, Goose Gossage.
Another phase I went through was getting totally immersed with the Detroit Pistons from 1986 to 1991. Tell me how the life was sucked out of you in 1986 when Larry Bird intercepted Isiah's inbound pass, zipped it to Dennis Johnson for an uncontested lay-up to win the game.
But the next two years, the Bad Boys won back-to-back NBA Championship. It was too bad after those wins, Detroit as a city was not shown in a favorable light as celebrating turned to rioting.
As for hockey, I was never a fan of the game. But you couldn't grow up in Detroit without hearing the names of Alex Delvecchio, Ted Lindsey, Sid Able, and the great Gordie Howe, and even taking in a few games at the Old Red Barn or better known as Olympia Stadium.
By the time they won numerous Stanley Cups in the 1990's, I had already moved to Seattle. I do remember being in Las Vegas when the Wings won the Cup for the first time in 30 years. A bunch of Red Wing fans were celebrating in a casino where I am sure I was losing money at the craps tables.
However, through all of these phases, I never stopped cheering for the Lions. For as long as I can remember, from the Greg Landry years to the 0-16 team of last year, I remained a fan, waiting and hoping that the success of other Detroit teams would rub off on the Lions and I would see the Lombardi Trophy hoisted in victory by (and this hurts to say it now) William Clay Ford, Sr.
So what is it like to be a Lions fan?
It's like getting your head hit with a two-by-four once a week and saying, "Thank you sir, may I please have another?"
Lions fans are very knowledgeable football fans. And despite the dismal teams that we've had to endure, it was only until last year where attendance became an issue. But an 0-16 season, and a sudden economic downturn will do that.
Who wants to spend a couple of hundred bucks to watch a team consistently lose?
Since the Lions last won an NFL Championship, these milestones occurred:
- Russia launched Sputnik in 1957
- First computer modem used in 1958
- First human in space in 1961
- Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969
- Laser printers came about in 1971
- The first personal computers came on the market in 1975
- Space Shuttle first launched in 1981
- Digital TV Recorders became available in 1999
As you look at this list, remember the first Super Bowl was played in 1966. In the 42 years of existence, the NFL expanded several times and with Arizona's appearance last year, the Lions, established 75 years ago, are one of five teams never to have appeared in a Super Bowl.
Even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who the Lions are often compared to in regard to futility, have made an appearance, winning in 2003.
Lions fans live in futility and yet a true Lions fan just won't give up hope. Every year we think this is our year. Every draft, we think this is the one that gets us over the top. Every coach we say this is the guy that will get us there.
With the explosion of blogs, every team in the NFL is scrutinized as they have never been before. In fact, if there is anything Lions fans can thank Millen for, it's the fact he was the lightning rod for many, many fire Millen sites and brought fans together to commiserate, whine, complain, and argue about the team, the owner, the coaches, and the front office.
It personally affected me as I was able to re-connect, albeit electronically, with my original home team.
I am hoping this latest version of the Lions will head in the right direction. After all, I am a Lions fan.