Watching another playoff weekend without the Lions being involved got me to thinking about the coping mechanisms required of a Detroit Lions fan. It’s very hard to root for one of the crappiest franchises in all of sports. The only case in sports that’s in the same miserable ballpark of being a Lions fan is being a fan of the Chicago Cubs. I thought I’d lay out the next year, month by month, on how to cope with being–yes, I’m gonna admit this in public–a Detroit Lions fan. It’s almost like the 12-step program for alcoholics.
January – You’ve sworn off SportsCenter and every other football related highlight show since November because you can’t bear to see the Lions lowlights on the tube. The Playoffs bring you back to reality, and you remember why you love this sport again. By the way, the Lions are NEVER mentioned on TV this month unless they fired another head coach.
February – After watching another Super Bowl without the Lions participating in it, you start gazing at the draft sites on the internet. Hope springs eternal, maybe this year’s draft is the one that finally turns things around. The highlight of the month is watching the combine in Indianapolis. Of course, you admit this to absolutely no one, and your wife and kids are sworn to secrecy.
March – The free agents are let loose and since the Lions almost never get the top tier guys; you hope they at least sign someone that you’ve heard of. The draft sites are now the first thing you go to when you get on the computer. The daydreaming about the Lions drafting their way out of misery is relentless.
April – It’s Christmastime for the diehard Lions fan. The month of April is just a countdown to the best day of the year if you’re a Lions fan. The players drafted in the first three rounds are immediately my favorite Lions, because they haven’t screwed up anything yet. It’s almost like Ralphie in the movie “A Christmas Story”, where he imagines killing the bad guys. You envision these new Lions as the missing piece to the Super Bowl puzzle.
May – It’s about this time that the baseless optimism begins to take a hold of you. The rookies look like Supermen in shorts during the first mini-camp, and the coaches are talking up last year’s flame-outs like that year was a total fluke. Everyone is smiling and the coaches are guaranteed to say the draft choices are better athletes than they thought they were.
June – Every one in the NFL takes the month of June off. That’s about the time the football websites and ESPN will run polls on things like “who has the best helmets?” Also a good month for players getting arrested.
July – Training camp opens, and Lions fever is running at a fever pitch. Even your neighbor who swore off the Lions last year is talking about them. It’s great to get back to actual football again with the daily reports coming out of camp. Now is the time that you learn the Lions are moving their top pick to a different position and your head starts hurting.
August – The games begin. After months of nothing, to watching the Tigers play 500 ball, you’re grateful that football is back on the tube. You’re analyzing the rookies with fine tooth comb. Every player looks like a hall of famer in the preseason. You get into players that you know aren’t going to even be in the NFL in a couple of weeks, but you don’t care because football is back, baby!
September – You swear this is the year that everything is going to start going the Lions way, then the games begin. After the Lions have blown their first lead and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, your optimism starts to fade. You’re already defending them at work.
October – By now the Lions are looking up at a 500 record, and your mood takes a dark turn when the Lions are on TV. You’re yelling so much that the dogs are hiding behind the couch, and your wife has to take the kids to the store to protect them from the profanity. The guys at work are making fun of you for being a Lions fan, as they always do this time of the year.
November – The Lions still have that Thanksgiving day tradition of losing in front of the entire nation on their only nationally televised game of the year. You take pride in the fact that no how much we suck, they can’t take the game away from us because we invented it.
December – You’ve reconciled with yourself that your team is out of the playoffs again, and you become Lions-free. You start to enjoy life and football again. You can’t help yourself but you’ve been scoping out the top picks for next years draft. Those new guys will definitely be the guys that put us over the top.