Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weird Bullshit and the Preseason

In a couple of days, the Lions will play their first preseason game of the year against the Atlanta Falcons. It is the first time any of us will get to see what the reborn Lions look like and it will come against a team who most of us desperately want to use as the model for the upcoming season.

The Falcons drafted Matt Ryan high in the first round last year, and then stormed to an unlikely playoff birth, which, incidentally, was kicked off by an unholy thrashing of the Lions in Week 1. They ran all over us like werewolf cheetahs loaded on crank and Matt Ryan was able to complete passes whenever he felt like it while our defense flailed about like retarded junkies, shaking and moaning while the earth opened up, the heavens fell and Rod Marinelli shit his pants in mortal fear and confusion on the sideline. It was not the best week for a Lions fan, and it presaged a season of ungodly terror, a season in which the final evisceration of a dying franchise was both brutal and drawn out over months and months, a season in which we as fans shed unnumbered tears and screamed into the night for it all to stop, only to tune in week after week to see our team fumble and bumble its way to 0-16.

The fact that in the preseason the Lions went 4-0 made it all the more mystifying for many Lions fans, who were perfectly content to overlook the obvious warning signs that this was a team barreling down the tracks towards a massive chasm because it felt good to watch their team win. Even if the games were meaningless, exaggerated scrimmages really, it was nice to watch their dudes do better than the other dudes. Of course, this was all horribly wrong, and it should make us all realize when we watch any of these preseason games that the final score is absolutely fucking meaningless. There is value in the preseason, I suppose, but it is more for the coaches than the fans. They get to see their players in game action, or what passes for game action in the preseason anyway. For us, it's just a chance to watch something resembling football after too many months off.

Will the Lions win on Saturday? Probably not, but who cares? The real stuff is still almost a month away, and for now, I just want to see Matt Stafford throw a ball through a barn door, and I want to see Ernie Sims knock some fool out and then I want to parse through the meaningless plays like every other football dork and look for signs that Player X might actually make something of himself or that Scheme Y will cause Aaron Rodgers to shit his pants. And then in a few weeks, when the rosters get pared down to their final numbers, we can all react in shock when the star defensive player during the preseason who really looked good out there gets cut and ends up on somebody else's practice squad.

There are four of these infernal things. If this were baseball, that would be the equivalent of 40 preseason games, 20 for both basketball and hockey. It is kind of absurd and is one big reason why someone always gets hurt. There is a reason they only play 16 games anyway. It's because this shit is brutal, and dudes get fucked up doing it. It's almost a miracle if, over the course of four weeks, everyone survives. The preseason is all about landing in Normandy, and everyone who gets through these beaches alive will get to then navigate through the French countryside, dealing with 20 foot tall, thick ass hedges, Germans shooting at them and French people running and screaming day and night, huddling in bombed out buildings, and . . . and . . . I have no idea how we ended up here and I apologize. Who are the Nazis in this scenario? The Falcons? Who are the French people? Are the giant hedges the Williams Wall? Does that mean that Minnesota is like France? This is so confusing. And this is why you shouldn't just write without thinking shit through, but fuck it, we have come this far. Much like the soldiers who landed on those beaches. Hilariously inappropriate? Inappropriately hilarious? Grossly offensive? Offensively gross? I am just lost here, but now I am wondering, who is Hitler?

Okay, so this took a weird turn, but by now you should know this is a real possibility any time you read any of these things, and so we'll just try to move on. TO BERLIN. Okay, sorry.

Anyway, we seem so close to the season, maddeningly close really, and we're all desperate to figure out what these new and improved Detroit Lions are all about. But, as close as we may seem, we are still four whole preseason games away, and a lot can happen during that time. And if we learned anything from last season's fiasco(well, aside from how to talk yourself out of sitting in the garage with the car running)it is that we really can't learn much from these preseason games. So, fuck it, watch and don't learn anything. Watch and pretend to learn something. Watch and then pretend that Matthew Stafford slew a whole gaggle of ghosts with only his arm, a half empty keg and a football. Or, maybe that will happen, and maybe you should watch because you never know, I guess. Someone might wander onto the field, drunk and pantsless, hurling obscenities at confused players. Maybe Rod Marinelli and Matt Millen will run in with steel chairs and beat the shit out of the new regime while the crowd boos and throws garbage. Maybe the Lions will win. And I suppose even a fake win is better than anything that happened last year. So, watch, don't watch, something resembling football is happening, and what it really means is that we are just one step closer to meaningful football being played and hopefully, closer to that meaningful football translating into something, anything, resembling the faintest bit of redemption and joy.

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