Sunday, November 14, 2010


My soul.

Being a fan of the Detroit Lions means having to constantly look for reasons to go on. We start off just like everyone else, in full armor, in the middle of a beautiful formation of Hope, ready to march on the world and conquer Fate. But then we lose the first battle, a lot of our brothers and sisters die, and we are forced to retreat. But that’s okay. We are hardy people. We are used to pain and suffering. And so we regroup and we tell ourselves that although we lost the battle, the war is still there to be won. We attack again, and again we lose. But our general is still alive, victory is still possible, our spirits are not entirely crushed and so we tell ourselves and each other that all we need to do is find the right plan of attack. If we can just figure out how to break the enemy’s lines then we can push through and then we can route the forces of darkness all the way back to the hell from which they escaped. And so we attack again, and again, we’re beaten. This time our general dies, and half of our army goes AWOL and things are looking a little grim. But to hell with all that. We are still with our brothers and our sisters in pain and we will fight until there is nothing left to fight for. Then the enemy comes sneaking into our camp at night and butchers everyone. We manage to crawl away, and we spend the night crying to ourselves. When morning comes, we swear revenge and say that as long as we take a few of them with us, we can go to a noble death, filled with honor and glory. And so we attack their camp at night when the enemy is all drunk and senseless, but we are caught by a cook who beats us with a rolling pin and then chases us out of camp with a butcher knife. We huddle, miserable, on a makeshift bed of rocks and hatred, and we tell ourselves that we need to keep going, to forget about the fight, that as long as we can make it back home, everything will be okay. And then a coyote shows up and eats our clothes. We scream at the coyote but he just laughs at us and makes off with our underwear and we are left naked and shivering in the night. We know there is no way home, no hope for survival, but hey, we’re still alive – technically – and so we force ourselves to stand up and we start marching, aimlessly, hopelessly, and we march until we collapse in some horrible desert of despair, on the brink of death, our throats cracked with thirst, our limbs weak, our hearts shattered. We close our eyes and think “Well, this is it. At least I can die now.” And then an angel shows up with a glass of water, and he smiles at us and he tells us to drink, and we drink because deep down we want to live, we want to exist in this world even if we don’t quite understand why. The will to keep going is inexplicable and yet incredibly powerful. And so we drink, but we discover that it is not water at all, but a glass of piss. The angel rips off his disguise and reveals himself to be a Failure Demon. He laughs in our miserable faces, and we cry and we try to scream, but our voices are gone and our throats bleed, and all that comes out is a trickle of blood. And then we lie there, under the horrible, horrible sun and we try to come up with a reason to get back onto our knees and then onto our feet, but we can’t think of one and so we just lie there, and lie there, and lie there, dying. But we never die. Instead we just go mad, our naked skin blisters under the hell sun, we eat our own tongues and we stare off into a bewildering horizon that no longer makes any sort of sense to us and we just wait and we wait and we wait for the earth to rush into the sun but it never does. It never does.

The world is cruel and utterly without mercy. How else do you explain the incredibly fucked up things that keep happening to us? How else do you explain the odd little quirks of fate? I mean, two years ago, we went 0-16. Last year, the last winless team, the Rams, beat us to get their only win of the year. This year, the last winless team, the Bills, beat us. And to add a nice symmetrical bow to this fucked up neat little package, Fate decided that in the process we would also set the NFL record for most consecutive losses on the road.

I don’t even know what to say. I don’t. I am just wild eyed and stupid right now. The future is just a word, a silly idea that seems like it was born in hell as some sort of cruel trick to cause us even more pain. The past is never ending. It is eternal, unceasing. And it will exist in what is left of our hearts until the end of time, and then it will ricochet back through time until it lodges itself in the souls of our great, great, great grandfathers and when we are born our baby selves will know the pain of their future, which is really just our past, and then the universe will fold in on itself and the last thing any of us will hear is a giant groan of despair and the last thing we will see will be the ball sailing a mile over the head of Brandon Pettigrew and then everything will cease to be except for our pain, which will exist in a pure and terrible form and it will race through space consuming worlds and darkening stars and somewhere, a trillion light years away a little boy will watch his favorite team lose and the purity of our pain combined with his nascent heartbreak will cause a singularity which will cause the concept of existence itself to disintegrate and the past is the present and the present is the past and I don’t know where we are going, I only know where we’ve been and I’m naked in the desert, bleeding, my throat cracked and I wait and I wait and I wait and I wait and I wait and I wait and there is still football being played, but I don’t know why. I don’t know why.


Peter said...

In certain ways, football is a game uniquely suited to futility. Think again of baseball: In theory, a team could perform so poorly that their opponents would never leave the offensive phase of the game. They would send a pitcher to the mound to open the game, replacing him as he gets shelled, on and on and on until no players remain and they forfeit the game without having completed a half inning. In soccer, the same thing, it is possible to conceive of a performance so poor one side never touches the ball.

Not so in football. No matter how poor a side performs, they will get a chance to even the scales. Sometimes the chance comes in a few minutes, sometimes a week later, and sometimes it takes years. I bring make this point not to praise football, but to bury it. That the game so readily accommodates not failure but failed attempts is ultimately what damns you. It is not enough that your team comes up short, but that they do so with a myriad of chances.

Do I mean this as consolation? I don't know. I don't know how I mean it. It is no comfort to know that the knife between your ribs is of a novel design. But perhaps it lends your suffering a certain weight. From where you sit you gain a better understanding of football than nearly all other fans. That's no drink in the desert, but I also don't think it's something that will cause you to choke.

Chinks Steaks said...

Feeble bright side attempt.
A new collective bargaining agreement should mean less money paid out to unproven rookies at the top of the draft giving you guys a little more flexibility for adding a proven player. Maybe you can draw on your own humanity to be thankful for Bills fan that they too don't have to suffer through an 0-16. Forget the whole misery enjoys company thing.

Neil said...

Through pain comes wisdom. Indeed. When things are going well, you don't bother to ask yourself why they are happening. You just enjoy the ride. When things are going poorly - Lions poorly - you can't help but to be reflective, to ask yourself "Why?", to try to desperately discover some hidden road out of hell. In the process, you pick up some things that the revelers tend to miss as they drunkenly careen towards their happy oblivion.

And yes, there is a sort of pain that is unique to football because of the vicious cycle of hope and despair - a cycle that makes football both great and terrible. It will rip you apart but it will always leave you believing that it will get better, if only because it has to and because the human mind refuses to accept that sometimes bad things happen and keep happening and keep happening for no reason at all. Something catastrophic can happen and 5 seconds later, you are breathing deeply and telling yourself "Okay, now it's our turn." It's absurd and wonderful and terrible all at the same time.

Neil said...

Thank you for your effort, noble Chinks Steaks. Perhaps if we shoot ice rockets into the sun, it will be less hot when it burns us alive.

But yeah, I guess we have some relatively cheap labor to look forward to. Let's hope Goodell brings in a gang of rabid Pinkertons who beat the spirit out of the Players Association and gives us that dream.

But fuck Buffalo. I am petulant and a sore loser and I don't care.

Still, you are a gentleman and I thank you for you gentle pat on the back.

CJ said...

Did this game remind anyone else of the Minnesota game or was that just me? Just the futility, the stymied offense, the similar play calls, the missed plays and the kind of lackadaisical and hopeless feel to it. Is it because they're outside? Are they all agoraphobic?

I don't want to hear the words 'establishing the run' ever again. I want them to play the 2 minute offense the whole game and I DO NOT CARE if that is stupid. I am now going with the opinion that when the announcers talk about Linehan's brilliant play calling, it's them, not me, who is insane. The Lions last week and the week before and the week before that were fun, and lion hearted and all kinds of awesome. They were not that today. I'm sorry. See, this is what I meant when I called myself a fairweather fan, because while you (and the other awesome peeps, I'm sure) are remaining thunder-hearted and fierce and proud, I'm just pissy and mean and no longer particularly care that I'm stupid about football. THEY ARE DOING IT WRONG. I feel like I've seen that same game 100 times in my career as a fan, and I had hopes that I'd never have to see it again.

Ugh. Anyways, I'm looking forward to your posts on it, and really nothing else about the Lions at the moment. I'm sorry it hurts so badly.

Neil said...

CJ, yes, yes, yes. I too was thinking about the Vikings game, if only because those were the two games this year that just had that general sense of hopelessness and futility to them.

Anyway, fuck it, I am pissy and mean too. And, Jesus Christ yes, THEY ARE DOING IT WRONG.

Anonymous said...

to all lions fans - it's time for a revolt. stop financially supporting the lions and force ford to sell the team. it will take a while, but if we all stay consistent and NOT go to the games, ford will be forced to sell. i'm convinced now more than ever that HE is the entity responsible for the lions curse. it's time for him to go and the sooner we get started, the quicker he'll sell. we have the power, people, let's use it and cut the head off the foul beast. spread the word, this is a call to arms.

HSOMGF said...

I can't even begin to imagine the depth of your despair. All I can do is offer a feeble and inadequate "I'm sorry".

I have been seething mad for hours about my Giants bending over to the Cowboys, but truly, that's no comparison to your situaton.

All I can ask is that you keep blogging. You are a powerful writer and I absolutely love your posts.

Agent P said...

A game of such futility that I could not turn on the computer after it was over, lest I read about the game that hurt me so.

Anonymous said...

Man, up to this point, the Lions have at least fought hard every game. That made it twice as hard to listen (no stream worked this week) to them mail this one in.

Just like last year against the Rams, the Lions walked into Buffalo and gave a no effort, no energy, no brains game.

Since wee are on the subject of no effort, no brains (and no talent), can we please put to bed the Schwartz propaganda that the offensive line is any good at all? Cherilus is another wasted Millen pick, Peterman sucks, Backua and Raiola are old, and Sims is wasted between the two old farts. The Lions might get away with a couple more years of Raiola and Backus, but Cherilus needs to go. Like NOW. Peterman and Cherilus need to be benched immedeately, it's not like Jason Fox and Dylan Gandy could be any worse.

Neil said...


Yeah, being a fan of the Lions is...tough sometimes. And yet, they are my team so what am I gonna do, you know?

And thanks so much for the kind words. I'll keep writing, if only because I am a stubborn damn fool.

Neil said...

Agent P,

Yeah, I don't blame you. There are games that just want to make you go camping in the woods for a week, and then there are games like this one, which make you want to drown yourself in the outhouse at the campground.

Neil said...

Lord Anonymous,

Yeah, that was the thing. This game just felt like it had no energy or heart or whatever the fuck you want to call it. UpHere was at the game, with seats right behind the Lions bench, and he sent me an e-mail which made note of the utter lack of emotion from the Lions sideline. It was depressing, like being told that Santa Claus was a mean old drunk who beat his reindeer.

And yes, the offensive line is fucking putrid. It is now clear that they cannot run the ball on anyone in the whole damn world.

Ty said...


"to all lions fans - it's time for a revolt."

You are a ding-dong.


Anonymous said...

@Ty - Screw you. Man up and join the cause.

To the rest of you - Do any of you have a better idea? Who has been the ONE constant on this team that epitomizes Murphy's Law? That's right, WCF. It's time for him to go. Now.

chinks steaks said...

I just hope that you too can one day enjoy having a season you had no hope for going in saved by Michael Vick.

Neil said...

In five years, maybe Drew Stanton will come back to us hardened by a year or so in Leavenworth after electrocuting some dogs. Of course, Stanton would be more likely to accidentally electrocute himself and then get mauled by the pissed off dogs. I would rechristen him Ol' Sparky.

Anonymous said...

I actually attended the game yesterday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

If it was even possible, the game was WORSE, witnessed live. The penalties seemed of less importance, in real life. There was a real problem, though. From the start, the lions had NO ENERGY, NO DRIVE. They seemed to have no heart, they were just a bunch of pros mailing this one in. They seemed to be moving in slow motion as they got ready for plays. On the other hand, the Bills were FIRED UP. They smelled blood from the beginning and went in for the kill.

If you had been there, you would see that there was very little chance the Lions could have won that game. It is a miracle that they even got close.

The lions' play was so pointlessly brutal to watch, our group (all devoted lions fans) left when the Lions started their last offensive avoid traffic out of Buffalo.

Chinks Steaks said...

Actually the same exact scenario would work with Joey Harrington too.

Neil said...

Yeah, that account meshes very well with what UpHere told me about the game after he forced himself to sit through it. I'm so sorry you had to put up with that horror show live and in person.

Neil said...

Man, Joey would just smile at the dogs and then play the piano until they got bored and wandered away.

Chinks Steaks said...

Yeah on second thought the pro locker room emasculated Harrington to the point that just a month in prison would be the final step in what equates to a sex change. Well enough of Harrington time to go watch some more touchdowns.

Neil said...

It is somehow appropriate that this post (d?)evolved into a discussion about the emasculation of Joey Harrington and his general ineptitude.