Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Well, Here We Go

Training camp is underway, and with it, a legion of die hard fans are trying to unearth any nugget of information they can find that has anything to do with their lousy football team, poor half mad degenerates trying to conceal their football boner during the work day, trying not to accost and beat upon some poor old secretary or door man who happens to be wearing the colors of their arch rival. Ah yes, August. We have been quality football free for about half a year now, and although during that time there are brief little stopovers like the draft, these are like methadone for the heroin addict. They kinda have the same effect as the real thing, but in the end, they are just a sorry substitute that only remind you that you don't have the real thing.

But, as I said, those dog days are coming to end, and now, a nation full of football geeks and degenerate gamblers can do something about the raging erection which threatens to explode . . . Jesus, you know what, I'm sorry, this is getting out of hand. I didn't mean to turn this into some weird porn writing, or excuse me, erotica as the professionals like to call it. But the level of excitement which starts to build around this time of year for football(Excuse, me, ahem, WOOOOOOOOOO FOOOOOOOOOTBALLLLLLLL for those who are already in full facepaint, a glazed far off look in their eyes and the faded uniform of some player who retired ten years ago on their backs)borders on the obscene, what with breathless reports on the hour every hour about the state of a prized rookie's tender thigh or the progress the aging vet is making with his inflamed groin. We lap this shit up, this football foreplay that gets us all hot and bothered. By the time September comes around, they will have to spray us off with fire hoses.

But that is all very weird, and we'll move on. The Lions have begun practicing in earnest, and like every year, there is a mixture of crippling fear and wild eyed hope which accompanies the beginning of camp. This year, there is probably a little more of the wild eyed hope, especially since this year we have grown men, truckers and factory workers, tossing their panties and cooing like school girls wherever Jim Schwartz happens to find himself. The fear of utter failure and bitter misery is still there, but it's lessened this year, partly because of the optimism surrounding the cult of the new and partly because, well, what the fuck is there to be afraid of coming off of an 0-16 season? I mean, we've been to the bottom of that horrible trench, that place where nobody else has been before, and no matter how bad it gets, it's never going to get worse than that. There is a bizarre sort of comfort in that, the knowledge that the world has whipped your ass so savagely, so completely, that anything else that comes along can just be laughed at and told to run along. Lions fans can't be hurt by failure anymore because we have experienced the ultimate failure. Still, winning would be really, really nice.

The first couple of days of training camp have caused Lions fans to both break into song and sigh with knowing contempt at that familiar son of a bitch known as failure. So far, by all accounts, the defense has looked shockingly good. I say shocking only because last year's defense had the resolve of a retarded jellyfish. If they somehow don't look better than last year's edition, then something is seriously wrong. The early star of the show has been backup defensive tackle Landon Cohen, who apparently has transformed himself into King Kong, capable of lifting a semi truck filled with sumo wrestlers over his head at will. Apparently, Cohen's offseason regimen of eating babies(they are high in protein)and bench pressing bears has paid dividends. The fact that all this comes at a position of extreme need, defensive tackle, makes the story all the more delightful and has Lions fans furiously mastur . . . okay, I said I would stop that nonsense and so I will. Of course, the beginning of August is a hell of a lot different than the beginning of September in the football world and when the season rolls around, if Cohen can be an adequate situational player, then his offseason will have been a success. Expecting him to turn into a 300 pound Bruce Lee on PCP is probably a mistake.

The offense meanwhile, well . . . see last year's edition. These guys have so far been routinely beaten by the defense in drills. That's good news for the beleaguered secondary, home of such luminaries as Chris Roberson and Kalvin Pearson, but for a team trying to establish an identity on the offensive side of the football other than running out the back of their own endzone it's probably not too good. But it's still early, and while the quarterbacks haven't looked as sharp as we would all like and the receivers are dropping too many balls, there is still time for that to turn around. In the early days of camp, the defense probably has a bit of a natural advantage anyway, as all they really need to do is fly around and let their athleticism make the difference. Sure, they have to do it all within the context of the dreaded scheme, but they don't have to do the things that require quite the amount of hand eye coordination that the offense must do. As time goes on, and the quarterbacks and receivers get into a rhythm, this will all probably change. At least a little bit.

Good signs and bad signs. They are all there in full bloom, being picked apart and obsessed over by diehard fans desperate for anything real to talk about - well, real in the context of football anyway - and the din from the millions of football nerds and aficionados all over the country will only grow louder and more obnoxious as the summer draws to a close. Soon, they will be playing the games for real, and soon, all this wild eyed hope will either bear fruit or give way to more bitter tears, and the Landon Cohens of the summer will likely be mostly forgotten, but we can still hope and wish and pray that come winter, they will be names that everyone will know. Vaya con dios, my fellow football freaks, and take a cold shower.

No comments: