Hemingway, who I seem to have a bit of a fixation on lately probably because of the suicide thing, once wrote "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places." This is the Lions fan goal now, to be strong in the broken places. "It", the breaking, happened at different times for all of us - for me it was watching my favorite team, in a driving, sleet-filled rain in Buffalo, quietly lie down and take a beating from the worst team in football. Sadly, for Neil it appears he finally let go of both the dream and his tenuous hold on sanity when Drew Stanton was announced as the starter this week. No matter. We all had hopes for this season and they have been crushed, utterly. We need a plan.
Step one. The 2010 season has been one of, to use one of my favorite phrases ever written (by Raven Mack), serial rapistry for Lions fans. We don't need to go over the details. Refs, luck, injury, effort, Peterman, a veritable cornucopia of pain and torment. So, the first part of my plan is, Fuck the 2010 season. Abandon it. Repress the whole thing like the time your uncle stuck his thumb..... well, my therapist told me not to tell that story anymore. But like that. Sure, there are some games left, but we need to watch them like one of those semi-evil 1950s psychologist assholes using electric shocks to see if college students can learn faster. Something interesting might happen, but probably not. We're down to our third string quarterback, maybe to the end of the season. The secondary at this point has all the confidence of an early Christian at the Coliseum. Things are unlikely to go well, is what I'm saying. So, to reiterate, Fuck the 2010 Season.
Step two. We have to try, as monstrously difficult as it is, to consider what we have instead of what we don't. Outside of Calvin, there was nothing remotely redeeming or encouraging about the 0-16 season, no sense that anything would be better, ever. Even the most pessimistic follower of the Lions now ( I'm looking at you, Drew Sharp, that's why I didn't write "fan") has to admit that's not the case. The Lions have the best young defensive tackle in the league and an occasionally dominant tackle beside him. Delmas looks a bit befuddled at the moment, but is still a potential Pro Bowler if they can find someone to play beside him. Levy is at least above average when healthy. Stafford, when we get a blue moon and his arm is fully attached to his torso, is capable of knifing through the Jets so easily that one of the best defenses in the league had to abandon their game plan after one series. Pettigrew is a beast, if a randomly butterfingered one, and we still have Calvin. We also have a GM that through repeatedly sodomizing the Cowboys in trades, was up for executive of the year in the early going. So, unlike 2008, we have at least some reasons to look ahead without cringing in hopeless terror. Which brings us to....
Step three. Embrace The Plan. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking - the plan clearly must be shitty because it's not working. But the first thing Mayhew had to do was replace the entire fucking team with dudes that, you know, could potentially find their own ass with both hands and a flashlight. I'm definitely not saying they know how to translate the talent upgrade in to more wins yet, but no Lions fan that remains sane can argue we haven't seen a massive upgrade in personnel. The plan's progress is not fast enough for me either, believe me, but at least there is some. Remember too that the Lions had one of the toughest first half schedules in the league, and they went through it without the starting quarterback and a linebacking corps full of guys who were second string on their high school team. Well, except for Julian "I still get paid, right?" Peterson. (Crap, that's probably unfair. They had Peterson in pass coverage for most of the year. Can't expect him to play like LT). Javid Best, who looked like Chris Johnson week two, could barely walk by game four. We can't blame The Plan for injuries, can we?
I have no idea how they're going to pay for it, but the Lions will get yet another top three pick in the draft. Unlike the dark years of Millen, I'm actually optimistic they won't fuck it up. So, more talent. We can hope they draft someone who can stay healthy, and then get a rule change from the NFL that allows Stafford to play covered in bubble wrap. New shoes for Best and we're good.
I'll fight anyone who calls me Joey Blue Skies in the comments, btw. I've been going to the gym, too, so you're in for a hellacious beating. I don't think things are ok. I have broken numerous small objects during many of the games this year and I've definitely smoked entire packs of Marlie Lights during most of them. I have raged, been inconsolable, ripped out chunks of hair, lived and died for my team. I no longer feel like Cool Hand Luke, defiant and brave. But, next year we will fight again. And we'll be stronger in the broken places.