“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 don’t know how many posts I’m going to have to lead with that infernal quote, but I knew as soon as I wrote it that it would haunt me like the ghost of a deranged stalker. Indeed, the football gods apparently read the post that originally appeared in, smiled mischievously at one another and then started sending lightning bolts from the sky to zap our players and giant Thunder Birds with wings made of fire and hate to swoop down and carry their charred corpses off to Valhalla while we all wept and begged for mercy. Terrible, terrible.
The latest atrocity, of course, came yesterday when Mikael LeShoure’s Achilles was murdered with a single arrow shot by Paris (Lenon?) We can only hope that, like in that famous story of the fall of Troy, this one ends with LeShoure’s Achilles being avenged and our side being ultimately victorious. Hopefully, we don’t have to resort to shameful trickery like those degenerate Greeks and hopefully this doesn’t result in Matthew Stafford wandering the seas like poor, doomed Odysseus in its aftermath, but . . . this Homeric gibberish has gone on long enough. Just count yourself lucky that I didn’t find a way to tie Virgil and the Aeneid into this, which would have no doubt just led me to ranting and raving about Dante and his Inferno and none of us wants to travel back into that hell.
Anyway, anyway . . . sigh. So, yeah, Mikael LeShoure is hurt, his career might be over before it began, and naturally this caused the world of Lions fans everywhere to explode. Immediately, everyone went into hysterics over the news with people gibbering on about curses, others throwing their hands up like medieval doomsayers, screaming at the sky, hands outstretched, wailing that the end was surely at hand. Still others actually found a way to turn this into a bitchfest about Matt Millen, which I’ve gotta admit, is some impressive twisting of the facts, while many inscrutably managed to use it as a platform to revisit their fearful disdain of the Lions drafting strategy. For my part, on Twitter, I threatened to get drunk and try to ride a lion at the zoo, fight an ape in hand to hand combat whilst riding said lion, and then to steal that same lion, and ride naked onto the Lions practice field in order to quell our collective fears. So, yeah, it was a weird day.
Really, though, this wasn’t so much about a single injury as it was about our collective fragility, about the all too breakable paper hearts of this fanbase. It was just too much too soon for people to handle. Nick Fairley got hurt, the offensive tackles are going down like [choose your own obscene metaphor], Titus Young has been banged up and hasn’t been practicing, and now . . . this. Look, I get it. I understand that we’re all walking on eggshells, wide eyed and terrified, too scared to truly believe that everything is going to be okay. We are like a herd of easily spooked animals, slowly wobbling out of the Forest of Doom which has been our home for so long, and every little noise sends more and more of us scrambling back into its terrible but familiar canopy of sadness. Every time something has happened – injuries, assorted bad news, etc. - since the lockout finally ended and everything became suddenly all too real, people have turned and fled, with more and more running with each bit of bad news. But the core of our fanbase seemed like it was holding together. We decided to stay brave, to face the wild unknown and to march away from that terrible hell forest together. But then this news about LeShoure came down, and it was like a dragon swooped in with a shotgun and started firing indiscriminately into the herd. The whole goddamn thing broke and now there is mass fleeing. It is awful and sad and bloody and strange and I hate it. Meanwhile, there are a handful of intrepid shepherds standing their ground and screaming “All is well!” at the top of their lungs like Kevin Bacon in Animal House.
When shit like this happens, when people take a cosmic gut shot, they tend to retreat to polar opposite positions based on pure emotion. There is no room for reason or thoughtful honesty. You have people governed completely by Fear, who fall apart and start ranting and raving about all the shit that they rant and rave about. We’re far, far too familiar with these types and the things they bitch about. Then there are the others, who are completely governed by Hope, who start burying their fingers in their ears and whistling a happy tune of their own making in order to drown out the screams of the dead and the dying. We cannot afford to be either if we’re going to survive this season.
These injuries suck. They hurt. They make me angry and they make me sad and they make me shake my fist in a sort of empty, dumb rage. They make me mutter about Failure Demons and the wrath of the football gods and they make me at least consider the idea of digging up the corpse of Bobby Layne and setting it on fire. It’s probably still soaked with enough booze that the damn thing will burn pretty easily. To deny any of that would be dishonest and wrongheaded. That sort of swallowing of my fan feelings would just lead to a supersonic breakdown later.
But they aren’t the end of the world either. I mean, come on, settle the fuck down, you animals. LeShoure’s is the only injury which seems like it will have any long term effects, both for this season and beyond. By itself, it’s a brutal blow and we should mourn it. We should. But, it’s not part of some terrible, cosmic pattern wrought by invisible forces buried deep in the earth who inexplicably hate us either. At least, I don’t think so. (Insert nervous laughter here.) All these other injuries are relatively minor, things that should heal relatively quickly. Nick Fairley should be back at some point either prior to the season or early in it. Does it suck losing him for practice? Of course. But let’s not forget, it’s not like we’re relying on him like we were Ndamukong Suh last year. Titus Young’s injuries are more frustrating than anything else, minor little nags which should heal and ensure that he’s good to go by the time the starting gun goes off. The most important thing to remember about all three of these injuries? None of these players is a starter. They were all expected to be – and Fairley and Young still are – contributors, but they weren’t expected to be the last line of defense or anything like that. Their injuries suck. They aren’t crippling, either literally or metaphorically. Finding the truth in that is critically important if we’re going to maintain our sanity as fans.
Like I said in the post about Nick Fairley last week, injuries happen and injuries heal. This feels worse than it is. Trust me on this. The only one that is a true gut shot is the Mikael LeShoure injury. That one sucks. That one honestly hurts. Go ahead. Feel that shit. And then calm the fuck down.
Honestly, the more worrisome thing as far as its impact on the team this season is the situation at left tackle, where our dudes seem to be being hunted Final Destination style. We can’t afford to go into the season without these dudes getting healthy. We can afford to go into the season with Fairley and Titus Young banged up. Such is the magical nature of depth. But the offensive tackles, while not as flashy, while not as loaded with promise and not as emblematic of our grandiose dreams, are more important. At least right now. The good news is that none of these injuries seem to be all that severe and that by the time the season starts, they should be good to go.
So here’s the reality: Mikael LeShoure is done. At least for this season. Maybe beyond. Who knows? And that sucks. It’s disappointing and it makes me want to throw a mini hissy fit. Everyone else has injuries that should heal relatively soon, so that when the season starts we’ll be minus LeShoure and relatively healthy everywhere else. And, hell, today the Lions went out and signed Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell so, honestly, the loss of LeShoure really shouldn’t be felt that deeply. Both of those guys have shown they can produce and one of them should turn out to be an effective complement to Jahvid Best.
So, really, when the season starts, what’s changed? What’s all that different from a few weeks ago, when we were all puffed up, drunk on our collective hopes and dreams, carrying on like wild eyed fools about Super Bowls and parades and all that shit? Not much. The thing that’s taken the biggest hit is our fragile and all too delicate sense of belief. It feels worse than it is. And it feels worse than it is because we’re predisposed to freaking the fuck out and crying and shaking like retarded baby deer whenever the slightest bit of noise comes along to startle us. But the good news is that when it comes to winning and losing and what actually happens on that football field all that shit doesn’t really mean a damn thing. This is about us and our own battle with ourselves and the past more than it is about anything on that field.
On some level, I think most of us know this. I’m not mad at the people freaking out right now. I get it. I understand. We can’t turn on each other like dumb and uncivilized cannibals. We’ve had enough grief as fans without whipping on each other and making it all worse. It’s okay to feel bad about all this. What’s not okay is how some people have cravenly turned this into an infomercial about SAME OL’ LIONS AMIRITE?
Fuck those people. Honestly. Fuck. Them. The people gibbering on about this somehow being related to Matt Millen are being fucking absurd. These people are already lost and we’ll never get them back and so just ignore their bullshit. Don’t even bother arguing with them about it. Their belief that somehow this is proof that the Lions drafted poorly this past year and that Martin Mayhew is just an extension of the same ol’ same ol’ Millen bullshit is so cosmically stupid that I don’t even know how to argue with it. It would be like arguing about Shakespeare with an illiterate circus bear with a brain rotted by syphilis and despair. Like arguing about fine art with a drunk vampire ape. You’re sitting there making compelling and logical points and they’re just sitting there hooting and growling, spitting dumb rage bullets and wondering what your face tastes like. There’s no fucking point.
Honestly, the idea that somehow these freak injuries validate any criticism of the Lions drafting is the most ridiculous and outlandish bullshit I’ve heard since I went back and reread some of my posts about The Great Willie Young. I could sit here and write several more thousand words just picking apart and wading through that insipid bullshit, but why bother? It would just irritate me and make me crazy and the people who actually believe it, who have been so mutilated and ruined by Fear and Failure, wouldn’t even be capable of understanding it anyway.
I understand that not everybody is going to agree with me on this. That’s fine. But to throw your hands up and declare this draft class ruined and completely without promise is utterly absurd. Everyone is acting like Nick Fairley and Titus Young will never contribute a thing because they’ve each suffered a minor injury in training camp. Jesus Christ, would you people please calm the fuck down? You’re like hysterical old ladies. I feel like I need to splash you in the face with water, and slap you a few times to bring you back to your senses. Nick Fairley and Titus Young both have their whole careers ahead of them. Nothing about that has changed. The Mikael LeShoure injury is another issue, but even he is just one player. If you’re willing to slit your wrists because one rookie running back was grievously hurt, then I suggest digging around in your pants for that missing set of balls. (Lady dudes, I’m not sure what to tell you to do. Uh, dig around for that missing set of ovaries? No, that doesn’t work. Dig around in that [redacted for gross indecency.])
I’m not going to minimize the loss of LeShoure. It hurts. He was drafted to be the complement to Jahvid Best, but more than that, he represented another bullet, another chance for greatness. There was the possibility that he could break out and finally be the answer at running back. Now, that bullet has fallen out of the gun before it could even be fired and disappeared into a deep, dark pool and we’ll likely never find it again. (Or not. The truth is that no one knows how LeShoure comes back from all this.) That fucking sucks. But I won’t overstate his loss either. The Lions were not relying on him to carry the load, either for the offense as a whole or for the running game. Jahvid Best is still the guy here and he’s still a dude who showed a shitload of promise before his toes betrayed him early last year. Let’s not forget, this was a dude that had 5 touchdowns by the time Week 3 rolled around and he had already implanted the memory of a bunch of awesome runs into our brains. Behind him, Maurice Morris is still there and he’s always been more effective than people want to give him credit for. And now Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell have joined the fray, the same Jerome Harrison who once rushed for 286 yards in a game –which is the third highest total of all time – and the same Mike Bell who ripped us apart in the 2009 season opener. We should be fine at running back.
Once again, it’s our collectively fragile sense of belief which is the thing that has taken the biggest hit this past week. I can’t stress that enough. We’re just feeding off each other’s panic, each other’s fears. Everybody chill the fuck out. There is no use – absolutely none – in trying to retroactively claim that this is some sort of evidence that Martin Mayhew messed up. That is so much needless noise, dumb and willfully negative and destructive, that the people saying it should be ashamed of themselves. We have enough bullshit to deal with as Lions fans without you assholes making shit up. I understand that you want to start talking about “opportunity costs” and all that, trying to act like this is somehow about losing three players rather than one (because, remember, we traded up for LeShoure and therefore, somehow, we can now retroactively claim that this means that we’ve also lost the hypothetical players in the form of draft picks that we traded for him.) but again, that is so much speculative bullshit that has no real meaning other than as a way to channel disappointment and sadness and fan rage into some petty argument.
It’s basically the cousin of the whole “Hey, guess who’s not in a walking boot? That’s right, Prince Amukamara” bullshit argument that I tore into last week. And hey, by the way, guess who is in a walking boot now? That’s right, Prince Amukamara, who broke his foot during practice with the Giants. The whole point is that the whole thing is speculative and therefore dumb and inane and utterly without merit. Nobody knows when a guy is going to get hurt. That goes for Nick Fairley, for Prince Amukamara and for Mikael LeShoure. To listen to you jackanapes, the responsible General Manager would never draft anyone at all for fear that that player might suffer an injury one day. Hindsight is not 20/20. Hindsight is pointless and dumb and as blind as it is stupid. I mean, sure, it would be great to get ahold of a Sports Almanac from 60 years in the future like fucking Biff in Back to the Future II, but unless you’ve got a DeLorean, a whole shitload of extra Plutonium lying around and a crazy scientist with an unhealthy interest in the lives of teenaged boys ready to put that shit to use, then I’m afraid you must deal with reality just like the rest of us, and in this reality you do the best you can with the information you have and sometimes you get unlucky and a dude gets hurt or flames out or whatever, but that doesn’t mean that you stop trying, or that you stop reaching for greatness. That’s some cowardly shit right there.
Matt Millen’s drafts were failures because the dudes he drafted failed on the football field. If you can’t see the difference between that and a dude suffering a freak injury, well . . . please, crawl back in your miserable little hole because you’re just in the way and some of us actually want to move on.
I hate these sorts of posts. I hate it when everybody gets all hysterical and dumb and starts hooting like deranged chimps and I feel the need to hoot back. It’s so much worthless noise. I can’t wait for the season to get here, for there to be actual football to be played. This is some shameful shit. We look ridiculous, like a bunch of whinnying ninnies with our panties shoved a mile up our ass cracks. And before you start accusing me of having rose colored glasses or of being drunk on Kool-Aid or whatever other dumb bullshit cliché you can think of, just remember that I have always – always – called it exactly how I see it. Go back to my posts from 2008. I absolutely savage Rod Marinelli. And right from the start too, back when everyone else was calling for ten wins and a spot in the playoffs. I have never – never – been one to mindlessly cheerlead. But I’ve also never been one to just mindlessly bitch either. I am neither a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of guy. I just see a glass and I see that there’s still some water left and I see that some is missing. See both. See the good and the bad. Think, damn you. Think. And when you do, I think you’ll take a deep breath and you’ll see that we’re still okay. We’re still okay.