With losses in three of their last four games, the Detroit Lions are facing a crisis in their identity. On one hand, they are talking big about “being feared” and “earning respect”, but on the other hand they keep telling everyone that they don’t care what anyone thinks about them.
To me, this seems an oxymoron – either you want respect or you don’t care if they respect you. The Detroit Lions cannot have it both ways. With every loss – and with every “dirty” play – the Lions have been getting less respected. Opposing teams are calling them cheap and the national press is piling on. The Lions are spending more time talking about their perceived dirty play than about the actual game itself.
I have to admit that I would like a little respect for my football team, because we have been so long here in Detroit without it. But I would like respect for the right things – playing hard, physical, controlled football. I don’t want my team to be all about “talk”. I don’t want my team known for late hits and cheap shots. And I don’t want my team talking. Maybe it is a generation thing, but I have never understood the talking that goes along with professional sports. I grew up with the “speak softly and carry a big stick mentality” – let your actions on the playing field do your talking for you. I grew up watching Barry Sanders calmly hand the ball to the referee after every score, and no one can deny that he was respected. I respected Walter Payton for his style of running, not for his trash talking after he leveled a DB.
Somewhere in the past 15 years or so this has changed. Maybe it was with movies like “White Men Can’t Jump” where trash talking was an integral part of the movie. Maybe it was with the ascension of stars that were as conscious of their image as they were of their statistics. Maybe it was with change from calm, composed head coaches like Tom Landry and Tony Dungy to arrogant, loud head coaches like Rex Ryan.
Maybe it is part of my mid-life crisis (which is proceeding quite well) but I miss the old days. But players these days don’t seem to have this in their DNA. Even Calvin Johnson, who is always portrayed as quiet and professional, talked about the touchdown celebration he was planning for the Chicago game. Maybe they play harder in order to backup their trash talk and to earn respect. I wish it wasn’t like this but if it helps my team win then I am all for it.