I wonder if he somehow knows that his noble species is associated with Detroit football. I mean, probably not, but man, if he somehow does, how frustrating must that shit be?
This season is starting to wear on even the most optimistic of Lions fans. There are days when I count myself in that group and there are days when I am lost in the wilderness, hurling obscene gibberish alongside the rest of the broken hordes who have had their sports humanity stripped by their unfortunate fandom. As always, this is because I am a complicated man. Or it is because I am an idiot and quite possibly mildly insane. I will leave it up to you to decide which.
It gets harder and harder to cling to the idea that things are okay. 1-7 is better than 0-8, and so, hooray I suppose, but it's still absurdly terrible. This speaks to how awful the situation truly was when Martin Mayhew, Jim Schwartz and company stepped forward as brave knights to slay the failure demon that has haunted us for far too long. Intellectually, you can know all this and say that it obviously will take time and that this season's record doesn't really matter all that much and that there is hope for the future, blah blah blah, but the heart and the brain don't always get along, and when you are watching your team dick around the field once again while the other team dances to victory, well, it's hard to stay positive.
The longer this goes on, the harder it becomes to really say anything interesting about it. We've been losing for a long time, and we're still losing, and hey, guess what? We're probably still going to be losing for a while. This is just the way of things and I suppose I should just leave it at that and move on. The reasons for this sinkhole of failure that we just cannot crawl out of are obvious and have been discussed both by me and by many, many others. It is a terrible situation, desperate and awful and there are days when it seems like it will never change. But, intellectually, I believe that it will and there are moments, when Matthew Stafford is rocketing a pass down the field or when Calvin Johnson is loping away from a helpless defender that my heart believes it too.
It seems like every time the Lions play the Vikings, I pick them to win. I'm not sure why that is, other than that I think, for whatever odd reason, the Lions play the Vikings better than they do just about anyone. Both of their losses to them last season were close - the Orlovsky "Whoops am I behind the goalpost?" game in particular. And this season, the Lions led at the half before Brett Favre efficiently shredded them the rest of the game. Everyone always thinks that Adrian Peterson will run for a billion yards against the Lions because, well, because it's the Lions, but he never really does. The Lions have mostly held him in check the last few meetings, and it wouldn't surprise me if they manage to do it again.
Still, the Vikings are a clearly better team than the Lions at this point. There really isn't all that much interesting I or anybody else can say on the matter. It's obvious. Brett Favre should be able to comfortably shred the shit out of the turdish Detroit secondary all game long and while Adrian Peterson could be held in check, that is a relative term, and a 100 yard game from him would hardly be surprising.
Hope for this season has faded away and become just another haunting echo of our constant failure, hovering just out of reach, always laughing at us, taunting us, reminding us of what could have been and what could still be. It seems like there is always hope, always a group of us shrugging our shoulders and saying "Well, why not this year?" And every year it's the same. This year I was in that group. Last year, I was not. I could say that it is easier to have hope or it's easier to not have any, but really they both sort of suck. In the end, you just get to sit there week after week and watch your favorite team lose.
The part of me that still wants to grab hold of that hope, even if the rest of me knows that it's just a ghost now, wants to hold onto things like the aforementioned tight games with the Vikings or that Antoine Winfield probably won't play, which could give St. Calvin a chance to run wild. But then the part of me that is tethered to terrible reality knows that Jared Allen is still there to beat the shit out of Matthew Stafford, that the Williams Wall will probably do a much better job of obliterating Kevin Smith this time around, especially since he is banged up, and that Matthew Stafford seems to inordinately struggle against the Tampa 2. In the first game against the Vikings, Chad Greenway picked off a pair of Stafford passes and last week against the Seahawks, Stafford threw five picks, including two to a linebacker.
I want to believe that the Lions can win every week, and this week is no different. My fool brain will concoct ridiculous scenarios that all end the same way: with the Lions winning. It will do this before the game, it will do this during the game and it will do this even when the game is no longer in doubt and the Lions trail by three scores with seven minutes left to go. It cannot help itself, damn fool optimist that it is, and it will just leave me feeling drained and irritated when it is once again laughed at by hope's terrible ghost.
Of course, even when things are going well, that other side of me, that pragmatic, endlessly cynical side of me won't allow me to believe that it will all turn out for the best. Even when the Lions were up 17-0 last week against the Seahawks, I couldn't fully enjoy it because there was a voice screaming at me from inside to stop being a goofy happy fucker and to prepare myself for the inevitable doom. It is a terrible thing, to be endlessly hopeful and to never have that hope fulfilled and to be completely unable to trust in that hope when it does offer you something. It's not a fun place to be.
Still, I wait and I watch, knowing that all that shit will finally be made worth it the day my favorite team, the Detroit Lions, puts it all together and turns this thing around. It's just that it's still so long away, and every time they lose another game or every time a new season's hope dies it all just feels that much further away, that more unreachable. It is only sports, and in the end it doesn't mean a damn thing, and I have said many times that we are fools for being roped into this ridiculous bullshit, but I cannot help myself.
This post is depressing as hell. I apologize. This is just the way of things. I wish it was all different, but it isn't. The Lions will probably lose to the Vikings again on Sunday and in the aftermath I will make a lot of dumb jokes and I will write the same old bullshit about the same old topics. It is hard to remain hopeful, hard to believe that there are better days ahead, but really, what choice to we have? We are champions in our hearts and warriors of light in our souls and we will laugh like children and dance like wild idiots the day that our belief, our faith, in this fool's hope is rewarded. My name is Neil and for some strange reason I am a Lions fan. Fuck the Vikings.
FIVE PREDICTIONS, SHORT AND SWEET BECAUSE THESE JOKEY ONES HAVE JUST GOTTEN OUT OF HAND
1. Stafford will look good for big stretches of the game, completing 20-35 passes for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He'll also make a couple of critical mistakes, and I predict three interceptions.
2. Kevin Smith will struggle mightily this time against the Williams Wall. He will only run the ball 15 times for 35 yards. The backups won't do any better this time.
3. Calvin Johnson will finally start to get on track, catching 7 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
4. Brett Favre will throw the ball 25 times, completing 20 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns.
5. Adrian Peterson will run for 120 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown.
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: LIONS 27, VIKINGS 24 because I am a hopeful idiot and because this is the sort of thing you must do from time to time to survive as a Lions fan.