I'm Thankful For The Detroit Lions

It’s a grey, cold, nasty day at the Berridge home just on the west side of Grand Rapids. In addition to my truck being on the verge of breaking down, my gas gauge deceived me on the highway last night driving home, so I sat on the shoulder I-96 for an hour and a half waiting for a gallon of gas to arrive. After today I’ll have to return to reality, and campus, for the impending doom of final papers and exams.

This morning was the sunniest and warmest Thanksgiving mornings I can remember. Amazing how an insignificant sports game can be such an mood elevator. For this one day, the FOX robot turns into a robotic chicken and we can put life on hold for a minute and watch football all day whilst ingesting copious amounts of bird meat. The Lions face the best team in the league, and, for the first time in a decade, are in the playoff hunt at the end of November. This year, while the turkeys are basting, America is watching, rather than waiting for the later Dallas game. And for that, I’m thankful.

First and foremost, I’m thankful for tradition. The team that I’ve rooted for for so long is one of two teams that gets to play on Thanksgiving every year. Regardless of the ups and most recent downs, Detroit has been in the national spotlight at least once a year, and I can’t imagine not having a game that matters on this day. On a secondary note, I’m also thankful that in 2006, a third NFL game has been assigned to Thanksgiving. It’s like having two Sundays in one week.

I’m thankful for William Clay Ford’s emergence in the realm of reality. Getting rid of Matt Millen was long overdue, and Ford and the rest of the staff did an excellent job putting together an administration and coaching team of veteren leaders who have proved themselves this year, most notably Jim Schwartz. Rebuilding this team took a little bit longer than it should have, but now that we’re turned around, it’s exciting.

On that note of leadership, I’m thankful for Kyle Vanden Bosch.

On that note of Kyle Vanden Bosch, I’m thankful for red eye contacts, and the natural feeling of people to be intimidated by demonic eyes.

I’m thankful for Jason Arapoff and Ted Rath, the Lions’ Strength and Conditioning Coaches. Is it just me, or has this quietly been the most injury-free season ever? I’m obviously knocking on wood right now, but I think it’s a true testament to the ability of these guys when the only substantial injuries are to your rookies. Of course, it took the entire team to bust their humps in a short off-season, so kudos all around.

I’m thankful for Calvin Johnson, but not only for his amazing abilities. This is a bit obscure but something I’ve always wanted to mention: while Tony Scheffler is doing his dances in the endzone and Ndamukong Suh is being called dirty, Megatron is doing his best Barry Sanders impression and handing the ball to the referee after a touchdown. He’s not throwing the “first down” sign every time he catches a ball. He is doing community service and representing the organization the way it should be. He alone makes me proud to be a Lions fan.

Lastly, but not literally the last thing, I’m thankful for the guys that have stuck with the Lions for so long. I can’t imagine Jason Hanson has had a ton of awesome Thanksgivings, but he keeps coming back and nailing 50+ yarders. Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola receive more flak than any other Lions in history, but they keep coming back and working hard. These three guys are by far the longest-tenured Lions, and I’m thankful that they’ve stuck around through the good and the bad.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the fans of the Lions and the fans of football out there. Choose your foods wisely.

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