“I’ve already swam the River Styx and I have already had red hot pokers shoved up my ass by the Failure Demons. I’ve seen 0-16. What else can they do to the football fan in me? (I know, I know, famous last words, right?)”
I wrote that a couple of days ago and right about the same time, on cue, a Failure Demon sprang from the earth, no doubt fueled by the desire to eat what’s left of my soul, stomped on Nick Fairley’s foot, cackled and then disappeared in a cloud of smoke and tears. Now, Nick Fairley is sitting in front of a North Carolina specialist who may or may not be telling him that he has a stress fracture which has kinda given my brain a stress fracture.
But while Nick Fairley is busy shuffling around in a giant walking boot, Lions fans are busy straining their fingers mashing away at their keyboards in pained despair, telling anyone who will listen that this is why you should never believe in anything, why life is utterly meaningless and why the Lions and all of its fans are doomed to suck the devil’s dick in the lowest circle of hell. This incredible display of ninnyism is actually kind of understandable. I get it. Believe me, I get it. We’re still so incredibly fragile that any little thing that goes wrong has us weeping tears of blood, tearing out our hair and seeing Failure Demons with whips made of fire and hate everywhere we look. We are a broken, paranoid people and that’s part of why this upcoming season is so fascinating. If you thought last year was bipolar and strange, you haven’t seen shit yet. Just wait until the Lions lose a game this year. People are going to freak the fuck out and start screaming about SAME OL’ LIONS and I’ll probably even threaten to drink drain cleaner again. Then we’ll win and we’ll all puff out our chests and pretend that we’re going to win the next six Superbowls and somehow we’ll all end up talking about how good it will feel to shit our pants in joy because that’s just what we do here.
So I understand the hysteria on display following Fairley’s possible injury. What I don’t get – well, I do get it but I think it’s just hysterically stupid – is the shameful sect of people who are using this to somehow retroactively justify their bitching when Fairley was drafted. Fuck right on off with that shit. I’ve already seen people drop the whole “Well, Prince Amukamara isn’t in a walking cast . . .” and I’ve seen people actually claim that “This is what happens when you draft a fat, lazy guy like Fairley. He suffers a fat man injury.” Boooooo! Booooooo! Come on . . . really?
We’ll start with the Amukamara isn’t in a walking cast shit. Yeah? So what? You know who else isn’t in a walking cast? My neighbor, Phil. Or me. I’m not in a walking cast. I’m pretty sure you’re not in a walking cast. Neither is my neighbor’s dog. Alright! Wait . . . what does any of them not being in a walking cast have to do with Nick Fairley? Not a goddamn thing? Well, neither does Prince Amukamara not being in a walking cast. What the fuck does one have to do with the other?
Okay, okay, fine . . . yeah, they could have drafted Prince Amukamara. So, I guess your reasoning goes that the Lions should have drafted him because . . . because . . . what? Why? Do you think the Lions had access to some sort of super-secret time machine that let them see four months into the future so they could see who would suffer a random, freak injury? Because, if they did, then yeah, I guess you’re right. But if not, then, uh . . . what’s your point? To be honest, if the Lions do have some sort of super-secret time machine, then to hell with arguing about who they should have drafted, I’m pissed that they haven’t used it to go back in time and punch out Matt Millen at the Under the Sea Dance. Is Doc Brown the new General Manager? Did I miss something?
As for the whole “This is what happens when you draft a fat lazy guy” . . . look, injuries happen. They happen all the time and usually they aren’t related to anything at all. They’re just freak accidents. They suck. I’m sorry that you’re angry. I’m sorry that you have to reach for reasons to justify your anger. That’s lazy as hell and I’m sorry about that too. I’m sorry that you have to channel your anger and your disappointment into something profoundly stupid so that you have something tangible to rage against. That might all sound self-righteous as hell on my part, but here’s the thing – I feel the same sense of disappointment that you do. I feel the same cosmic anger about the whole thing, the same “Why???” that you do. I get it. But I refuse to let my anger make a dumb asshole out of me. I refuse to let it rob me of my wits. Shit happens and sometimes there’s nothing and no one to blame. You just have to live with it.
But the thing that makes this even more hilariously dumb is that Fairley is 291 pounds, which is damn near anorexic for a defensive tackle. And Jim Schwartz has said that Fairley reported in excellent shape, so . . . keep tilting at windmills with your lance made of hatred and bile, dude. Nick Fairley hurt his foot. Shit happens.
The good news is that this really shouldn’t hurt the team all that much. I won’t say that it won’t hurt at all because that would be absurd, but this is why you build depth. This is why you draft dudes like Nick Fairley even though his position is already one of strength. Let’s flip the script. Let’s say the Lions did draft Prince Amukamara. And let’s say he just suffered a stress fracture and was limping around in a walking boot. What would the shrieking banshees be wailing about then? Good Lord. They’d probably find a way to say that it was proof that we should have drafted Nick Fairley. Because that’s what they do. They bitch just to bitch and they tailor their arguments to whatever their bitchery demands. But if the Lions did draft Amukamara and he got hurt, wouldn’t that be a far, far more devastating blow than the one we just suffered with Fairley? This is why you don’t draft just to fill immediate holes, because guys get hurt and even if they don’t they’re still rookies and putting all your hopes in a rookie is utterly foolish.
Okay, onto some other news. Apparently, Zack Follett has saddled up his Spirit Horse and ridden off to Valhalla. This is sad. Mostly because Zack Follett seemed like a legitimately awesome dude. He had a bizarre sense of humor that appealed to weirdoes like us, he wasn’t afraid to taunt his enemies, he played with actual lions, and he loved – loved – to hit people. He was almost the blue print for the fan favorite. He was slightly under-talented (he was white), he hustled his ass off (he was white), he loved to play football, he had a look people liked (he was white), and he was good for a quirky soundbite. Oh, and he was white.
I’m sad to see him go. My friend, the esteemed Monsieur Rose, who followed Follett back in his days at Cal, is inconsolable. I had to tie him to a tree to keep him from hurting himself. I have to stop by three times a day to feed him with my own hands and spray him with a high pressure hose so that he doesn’t start to smell. I refuse to change his pants though. It’s awful. This is what the retirement of Zack Follett has wrought.
But neck injuries are a terrible thing. I think we all at least suspected that this moment was coming the moment he had to be stretchered off the field against the Giants. It’s better this than if he ends up a delusional simpleton in a wheelchair by the time he’s 35. And, awful as it may sound, it’s better for us too. Look, we all loved Zack Follett but this is not a goddamn day care center. This is not the Island of Misfit Toys. Not anymore. This is a real, live NFL team, with real, live hopes and dreams. There is no room for soft hearted compassion. That is the trade-off that we all must make. Sure, everyone loves the loveable loser, those dudes who aren’t quite good enough but try really, really hard. The problem is, is that those guys don’t win. It sucks but it’s true. The reality, sad as it is, is that someone like Jimmy Johnson would have packed Zack Follett’s remains in a box and shipped him back home to his family the first moment he proved that he was a step too slow. And people would have bitched and hated him for it, but the thing is, is that a dude like Jimmy Johnson also wins. A lot.
I want to win. A lot. So do all of you. We’re not fucking around anymore. We all have to come to terms with that. As much fun as a dopey dude like Zack Follett is, we simply need better players than him if we’re going to become the monster that we all so desperately claim we want to be. I loved Zack Follett. I thought he was a useful special teams player. By no means did I want him in the running to start at linebacker, or hell, if I’m being honest, to ever play linebacker again for the Lions. I was fine with seeing him run down the field like a berserk cannibal let off of his chain a couple of times a game but that was about it. It’s hard and it’s cruel and it’s the price we must all pay for greatness.
Still, all that said, I’m going to miss Zack Follett. I am not made of stone. I laughed when you laughed. He’s a good dude and I hope he has an awesome life. If nothing else, we’ll always have the memory of him murdering Danny Amendola. In the end, like in everything else, I blame Dick Stockton. After all, who was calling the game against the Giants that fateful day when young Zakarian was brutally murdered? That’s right, it was Dick Stockton. I rest my case.
And finally, in more pleasant news, there have been rumblings from camp that none other than The Great Willie Young has shown marked improvement, especially as a pass rusher. This makes sense, since The Great Willie Young has spent centuries sacking his enemies. History remembers these disembowelings with names like the Sack of Constantinople and the Sack of Rome. Obviously, I am delighted by this. Almost as delighted as The Great Willie Young is by the idea of catching a fat catfish. (Seriously, good Lord, my dude loves to fish.) What does all of this mean? Well, that’s not really for me to say. That’s for The Great Willie Young to show the world. If he so desires anyway. For The Great Willie Young has nothing to prove to this world or to this time. He is a being of pure light and if we do not see the light, that is not his fault but it is the fault of the weakness of our own mortal eyes. He flashes with dazzling brilliance every day, like a billion diamonds reflecting the light of a billion stars. He sacks 10 quarterbacks in the span of just one of our mortal breaths. If we do not see it, it is only because he moves in dimensions which we cannot perceive. I’m just glad that he slowed down long enough to indulge the mortal eyes of Tom Kowalski and therefore give us all reassurances that he will emerge on our mortal plane and smite our enemies for us. No Willie Young, no peace. Know Willie Young, know peace. It’s as simple as that, friends. It’s as simple as that.
I said some harsh shit in this post. I didn’t really mean to be an asshole. Forgive me if I was too dickish, but these are what these times have wrought. My patience is as frayed as everyone else’s. I just don’t have it in me to suffer the same old bullshit anymore. We can’t turn and flee at the first sign of resistance. We’re not cowards, are we? No. We are warriors of lights, dudes and lady dudes with hearts made of thunder and fire. It’s time we start acting like it. This doesn’t mean we should bury our heads in the sand and press on stupidly either. I’m not saying that. We need to look at everything as it comes for what it is, and not let our fears and the horrors of the past define everything anymore. Nick Fairley getting hurt is what it is, nothing more and nothing less. It sucks but it is not some grand sign that we should never believe in anything or that picking him was some sort of cosmic mistake. I was in a walking cast once, after destroying my ankle following a particularly weird round of golf (It’s true. I swear.) and a couple of months later, I was walking and I was fine and the world kept turning. I know, I know, I wasn’t tasked with chasing down opposing quarterbacks like our man Fairley is, but the point is that injuries happen and injuries heal and one day we’ll all laugh and smile and gibber like overexcited babies when we watch Nick Fairley throw Aaron Rodgers to the ground and then all the people who panicked and pissed themselves will feel like jackasses, just like they did when they bitched about Ndamukong Suh holding out last season and he responded by going Murder Death Kill on the whole league. When a man slaps you in the face, you can do one of three things. You can cry and slink away or you can rage and snarl and scream nonsensical gibberish. He wins either way. You look like a fool. Or you can take the slap, smile, wide eyed and crazy, and refuse to let him win. And then you can rip his throat out. Let’s smile and start ripping throats.