DETROIT — The hype, hope and hysteria in Detroit surrounding the Lions is perhaps at an all-time high. Not since the days of Barry Sanders has there been this much buzz about the Lions outside of Detroit.
Heck, even inside of Detroit.
But the question has to be asked by someone and I guess that bullet will be taken by me: What if this all doesn’t work out…again? What if Matthew Stafford doesn’t get and stay as healthy as he can be? What if the defensive line doesn’t click or injuries plauge it’s potential production?
As with any team, of course these what if’s are pretty much a cliche, but for Detroit they’re all too real of a possibility. We’ve seen it happen before and chances are we are not done seeing it. Detroit has drafted quality potential talent before and they still draft at the top every year.
But it’d be ignorant to deny the fact the Lions have hit a turning point and the have come to the proverbial fork in the road.
One path leads to more rebuilding, it represents a team that is almost geared up to be a force, but isn’t quite there. The other path is the recycled pain the Lions have felt so often and so consistently the past decade.
But the third path is perhaps the path they have already taken without knowing it. That path is the one where they forget all the doubt, fear and pain the other two paths offer and say “Screw it, we’re good and if you don’t think we are then come and beat us.”
This is a mentality that the Lions are presently starting to project; a sort of Devil May Care frustration with how they are viewed. The players, as much as the fans, are sick of being the butt of the joke. They are sick of being denied the same equality the winning teams are shown by the greater NFL community.
They’re as mad as hell and they aren’t going to take it anymore.
And just as Peter Finch, they just might have some hardware to show for when this (potential) upcoming season is all said and done. The Lions need everything to work out just perfectly because if things don’t go the way they are looking at the moment, the pain will be far greater than anything experience before.
How many times can a team be teased with talent and then be burned by it failing? How many games can the Lions lose before enough is enough? How many times can they hear “wait until next year” before they go insane?
The pressure to perform hasn’t really been on the Lions shoulders before, but it is now. Atlas isn’t jealous of the mass of expectations the Lions and those close to the Lions are carrying. 2012 will be a telling year for the Lions. We’ve seen it before where a team in rebuilding mode clicks and goes on to do amazing things (see my 2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
The Lions aren’t almost there anymore, they’re there and they need to show it. Otherwise all they hype has been for nothing and we’ve all been tricked into thinking things weren’t the same.