Sunday, January 2, 2011

Manifest Destiny

That's right, this post was passed by the National Board of Review, which means this is officially a blog fit for the whole family. I may have had to bribe the judges, but fuck it, these are strange and terrible times and who is to say what is decent these days?

I wrote myself into a corner over the last few weeks and the potential was there for me to get destroyed and embarrassed, but fuck all that noise, I am a man without shame and I refused to shy away from the bright lights of my grandest dreams and I stared into the sun and laughed as they came true. Of course, it is absurd to talk about the fulfillment of dreams when the Lions final record ended up at 6-10 (Actually 7-9, but, well . . . fuck you, Mike Pereira.), but this isn’t so much about this season but about the last month, and about the perfect resolution to a 20 year old story of chaos and pain, tragedy and bitter disappointment.

I have yammered on over and over and over again the last several weeks about this story and I laid out the perfect ending and I dared to believe in it even while I knew that as a Lions fan, perfect endings just don’t happen for me. But those are the sort of fears that we just left behind, the sort of wallowing and depressed expectation of failure that belong to that story that was just resolved so perfectly. I said for weeks that this is how it had to happen, that this was the beautiful symmetry of Fate, that same Fate which has seemed so long to be our enemy, and I believed in it even while I questioned it. I wondered if my mind had cracked and if I was just searching for some desperate reason to believe, for some reason to keep going, to keep moving forward even though I could see nothing on the horizon but the same hell desert we had been wandering in for so long.

A man will tell himself ridiculous things, will lie to himself and will convince his own idiot brain of delusional fantasies if it means living for one more day. I feared that this was what I was doing to myself with all my blathering about the Symmetry of Fate and I suppose in one small distant corner of my mind I was preparing myself for it all to be blown apart and for my own naked foolishness to be exposed in a cavalcade of failure and sports pain but I refused to listen to it and I kept gibbering on like a damn fool, concocting wild epics and insisting that at the end it would all make sense and that we would be happy and that whatever the hell the last couple of decades have been would finally be over and we could move on.

I listened to my heart because it wanted to believe. I trusted it and today I watched the Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings to win their fourth game in a row, and I watched the career of Brett Favre come to a banal, pointless end and those two stories, divergent for so long, that I have carried on about the last couple of weeks finally came to an end, together, in the city of Detroit, and somehow, they ended in a way that justified my own foolish and stupid hopes and dumb fantasies.

It didn’t happen exactly as I prophesized (And really, although that sounds grandiose, I feel that my wild eyed ranting the past few weeks has turned damn near Biblical, so I don’t know what else to call it, you know?) Brett Favre didn’t play and therefore he did not get destroyed by The House of Spears, but the way it happened actually ended up being better. Favre was reduced to an impotent spectator, a ceremonial old Indian warrior like Sitting Bull touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the end of his life, trotted out there by the white man’s circus to holler at a coin toss and then to stand worthless and ruined on the sidelines while his culture and team were violently driven into irrelevance by the rise of the new and the relentless. The tide of the Lions cannot be stopped. It is inexorable and it is our Manifest Destiny to conquer the entirety of the NFC North and if the old warrior Favre had to be destroyed and humiliated in order for that to happen, well . . .

I won’t gibber on about Favre too much. I know everyone is sick of him. I have been sick of him since 1992. The announcers spent the entire 4th quarter blowing him to the point that I was worried that John Lynch was reading a prepared statement in the booth forced upon him by a desperate and broken John Madden, a gun pointed at Lynch’s head while Madden uselessly mashed his withered old penis with his one free hand and wept tears of bitter longing and sadness for his beloved Ol’ Gunslinger. I told the little men on the TV to shut the fuck up several times and I would have muted the end of the game but fuck them, this was not about Favre, this was about the end of an era of pain and humiliation and about the beginning of something new and beautiful. His presence was merely symbolic, a necessary old Indian relic trotted out, defanged and neutered, to reinforce the new truth, which was that the old world was extinct and that the new world belonged to us.

I have struggled with writing this. You wouldn’t think so since it is the culmination of a grandiose vision I had laid out several weeks ago, but now that it is over, I’m not sure what there is left to say. I said it all in the last few weeks. In a sense, I wrote about this game and what it meant long before it even happened. There was a certain hubris in that, a certain idiot’s arrogance, and in any other season over the past twenty years I would have expected to get cruelly and hilariously smacked down by Fate. But not now. I trusted in the Symmetry of Fate and I left my nuts hanging exposed for everyone to see and swat at with flaming baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire, and I refused to waiver. And now it’s over, I still have my nuts and for once my faith was justified and I don’t really know what to do. I really don’t. I don’t know what to say or even what to feel.

And maybe that is the whole point. It’s a whole new world, a whole new story, and anything and everything is possible. Perhaps I am struggling so much to write about this because the story is over and the new story has yet to begin. After all, I said in the preview that I like to look at everything I write here as being connected. Each post is just another small piece of the story, and I like to think that it is connected in some way with the larger story of the Detroit Lions. This is about one fan’s journey – and by extension, if I can be incredibly arrogant for a moment, the journey of all Lions fans – and now that journey is over and right now all I can do is rest and wait for the new journey to begin. The road out of hell has been long and brutal and terrible and at times it seemed like it would never end, but today it did. There are no roses or parades or candy or blowjobs at the end of that road. There is no reward. I mean, the Lions just finished 6-10, you know? But what we can do is finally stop, take a deep breath and close our eyes and smile and feel satisfied that we made it out and that we are still here. No matter what tomorrow brings, no matter where the next journey will take us or what will be written in the next story, we made it and no one can ever take that away from us. I’m a fan of the Detroit Lions and today that means something different than it did yesterday. It means I’m a survivor and it means that I have passed through the fires of hell and I’m still here, motherfuckers. I’m still here and I am made of iron and Hope, my heart is made of thunder and my soul is still mine and the world is laid out before me and anything is possible.


DarkStar said...

I think that the NFC North has to be on alert for the Lions in 2011. I mean, how long has it been since we at least split with every team in the North (sorry, L.B., but ya know it's true)?

Of course, there is still a ton of work to be done, like jettisioning the remainder of the dead wood from the Millen Dark Ages (I'm looking at you, Julian Peterson, Gosder Cherilus, and Bryant Johnson). This should be followed by preparing for the upcoming draft, where we can and should buy a shiny new Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamura, or Travis Lewis.

Of course, all progress next year will be directly related to the health of one Matt Stafford. I think we can all agree that the Lions in their current injury ravaged incarnation have about maxed out their potential, and that Staford must, MUST play a full 16 games for the Lions to take the next step. No offense to Shaun Hill, who did an awesome job as the understudy this year, but Hill as the starter means we have the third best QB in the NFC North, and that's just not going to cut it. Drew Stanton... yeah.

With Stafford healthy and another infusion of talent drom the draft and free agency, who knows what is possible? That's the beauty of what Mayhew and Schwartz are building, that the potential is unlimited. Mayhew has brought in talent that could be elite (Stafford, Best), and talent that is already being mentioned with the league's elite (Suh, Pettigrew), along with solid players that don't just fill a jersey like a Millen pick (Levy, Alphonso Smith, Lawrence Jackson, Sammie Hill, Turk McBride, Chris Houston).

Neil said...

Yeah, I keep trying to check my own expectations, but I just can't help myself. Assuming Stafford is healthy (Oh, Lord, grant me this favor...) and the Lions maintain just average health everywhere else AND they manage to upgrade the talent level via free agency, trades and the importation of at least one blue chip player via the draft, then...shit, uh, why not, you know?

JP said...

It was after the game that I was talking to my family, whom I had just returned home with, that I made the statement that "God I'm glad that we got to see that game in person, because the announcers probably spent the whole game talking about Farve".

God I'm glad that I didn't have to hear any of that shit. I do believe that these so called analysts and announcers know absolutely jack shit about football, and are required to spend all week in some Holiday Inn board room concocting their "analytical" thoughts for the upcoming game.

It was so nice just watching the game, and feeling the roar of the crowd. It is fucking intoxicating. Ford Field was a really special place today, and it's not like I've never been to a live NFL game before. I've been to different stadiums, but today I fell in love with the roar, the views from F.F., and of course watching the Lions win their 4th in a row.

Another one of my odd thoughts of the day...After is was all said and done, I kind of feel sad about the whole thing. Normally by this time of year I've come up with who they should draft, dreaming about the future, of what could be. But today I just wish that I could watch them play again. I guess I should just be happy that Fate gave us what it did, I mean there were about 2-3 weeks in the middle of the season that I thought I was going to go fucking mad, but it seems like this team "gets it" now. Even with a plethora of backups in place, (some of which are better than the starters, I'm looking at you Gos)they were playing as cohesive units. 11 players together as one.


Neil said...

Man, I bet that was awesome.

Also, yeah, the announcers were breaking out the whole HE'S JUST A BIG KID WHO HAD SO MUCH FUN OUT THERE LOOKIT HIM SMILE bullshit ad nauseum. Like, look, I get that you need to talk about him because it's his last game and all but shit, did you really have to go into cliche hypermode with it? I was surprised they didn't start talking about Wranglers and fishin' with his dogs and all that bullshit. John Lynch, I don't give a fuck that you watched him do the YMCA dance in the huddle one time. Jesus.

Also, I hear you on the whole wanting to watch them play again. I mean, I'm glad it's over because these dudes need to heal up and I need a fucking break but at the same time I kinda had the sense of NO LET'S KEEP IT GOING THIS IS AWESOME too.

JP said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to add a major kudos to you, Neil, on surviving the crazy Lions season. A post a day is a major deal, let alone having to write about this schizo fucking team that we all love so much. And The Great Willy Young got some action today too, so I hear.

These are strange and wonderful times...

Neil said...

Thanks, JP. There were times when I was driven to madness, but what the hell, I have always been half-mad anyway.

"These are strange and wonderful times..."

Fuck. Yes. I tip my cap to you, my good dude.

Whiouxsie said...

Also, in what may or may not be a symbolically important achievement, the Lions by going 6-10 and beating the Vikings today officially climb out of the divisional cellar and finish in 3rd place. And they did it almost entirely without their starting QB.

(This also means, Neil, that your team and mine are set to square off as Strength Of Schedule Opponents next year. Assuming next year actually happens, of course.)

Neil said...

I will look forward to my dudes gnawing on the wicked bones of those San Francisco Sodomites you cheer for. I'm just kidding, sodomy is cool and doesn't deserve to be compared to the 49ers.

HillHeeb said...

I had always envisioned this game ending with Favre broken and beaten, lying on Ford Field waiting for a stretcher. As you said, it seems appropriate that he pussied out. Favre ending his career like the bitch he has become sat on the sidelines is almost as perfect as SUH gently grabbing his head and snapping it sideways.

The beautiful thing is that the Vikings are on such a hard downward spiral that we can piss on them from the lofty heights of third for the forseeable future. If Stafford plays 16 games next year... 10-6?

Neil said...

Yeah, in a way, it was more satisfying to just watch him stand there, helpless, while his team flailed helplessly about and then was put down.

Also, yeah, if Stafford stays healthy, I don't see why 10-6 isn't doable. People will scoff because it's the Lions and all that bullshit, but fuck that, this was a 7-9 team this year even with all the ridiculous injuries and probably could have realistically gone 8-8 so 10-6 doesn't seem that outrageous to me. Yeah, yeah, I know, this will all seem hilarious this time next year, but to hell with all that dumb noise, for now I believe.