Sunday, October 2, 2011

What in the Hell Just Happened?



Just . . . wow.

Look, I have been sitting here for a while now trying to figure out what to write and I’m not sure if I can do it. The English language feels futile and insignificant right now and although I’m sure some words exist in some ancient language like Sanskrit or Willie Youngese to properly describe what went down today, I’m afraid I don’t know them. I’m close to just spilling into idiot gibberish, speaking in tongues and making weird faces. I don’t know how you would translate that over the internet but if it happens, I’ll just start mashing buttons on my keyboard and then that’ll be your cue to call 911 or a witch doctor. Cool?

Anyway, I feel like I need a cigarette and about 16 beers. Actually, I feel like I just spent the weekend smoking crack and I’m kind of afraid to look in the other room because I’m worried that I will find a dead hooker in there and a crying baby. I think I may have blacked out just after halftime but I can’t be sure. Let me check . . .

Okay, good, no dead hookers. I did find a crying baby but it turned out to be a hallucination which then turned into a bird and flew out the window. I’m glad it wasn’t a crow because then I’d be terrified that the baby ran off with my soul.

I told you I didn’t know how to translate the entirety of today’s feelings into anything other than weird gibberish.

Okay, fine, I’ll try, but honestly, I think I felt every emotion available in the human spectrum and then I invented some new ones to feel. There were various points when I was surprised that my neighbors didn’t call the cops on me because I was raising such a goddamn scene. If someone had a webcam trained on me during that game it probably would’ve looked like a scene from either The Jerry Springer Show or the opening of Saving Private Ryan. Just mayhem. Utter mayhem. But somehow I survived – we survived – and, well, here we are.

What is there to honestly say? What words are there that can describe the totality of this experience? Perhaps I am being a touch melodramatic here (A touch?) but there were times in that game when I felt such dumb rage, such a helpless feeling of defeated ruination, that I was seriously thinking back to 0-16 and wondering if this was somehow worse.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. At least we knew we were doomed during 0-16. This time it felt like we had something real to lose, something tangible and huge and wonderful, and while that game was exploding along with my brain, the full weight of that huge and wonderful thing hit me. I realized, right then and there, how much this means, how much I have been forcing myself to go on as a fan just to get here. I have spent the last few years just wandering like some sort of depraved zombie, driven only by the hint of an echo of an idea that salvation might lie somewhere beyond a horizon which existed only in my dreams. I spent everything I had left as a fan getting to this moment, and the idea of having it ripped away so suddenly, so cruelly, was as panic inducing as it was utterly infuriating.

I was already mentally composing death sonnets and wondering if I should even bother writing anything this week. Remember, I wrote about every damn one of those 16 losses during that Trail of Tears known as the 2008 season, and I have never missed a game since. But had that game continued down its path of oblivion, a path which would only end in some fiery hell all too familiar, with Failure Demons cackling and poking me in the ass with tridents of hate and despair, I’m not sure if I could have kept going on. You see, it wasn’t just because the Lions were losing, it was because everything – every Goddamn thing – I had used to armor myself over the last few years was being revealed as nothing more than a sad illusion.

It’s true. Matthew Stafford looked lost. Whether he was bothered by the pressure or the Cowboys zone defense – or a combination of the two – he couldn’t do anything. He was misfiring on everything from deep balls to simple screen passes. Meanwhile, the defensive backfield looked like it was reverting to their previous life stage – lobotomized jellyfish larvae – and worst of all, the defensive line looked . . . soft. Yeah, I said it. I don’t like it but I said it, and it’s true. And it was this, more than anything else, that shook me to my core and made me feel like the whole damn thing was being ripped away by some alien wizard with knives for hands, hatred for eyes and a grenade filled with despair for a heart. Awful, just . . . awful.

It was to the point that that lizard man asshole, Joe Buck, seemed like he was only moments away from openly calling Ndamukong Suh a pussy. I never thought I would see that. Name anything else that can happen on a football field and I would have guessed that it would have happened before Suh and the Lions defensive line looked like . . . that. I guess there have been signs of it all along this season - the sacks have been way down and teams have been able to run more than I’d like – but still, prior to this game the defensive line at least looked like an aggressive Eat Your Bones kind of unit. That defensive line, led by Suh, has been my constant the last couple of seasons, the one thing I kept leaning on whenever everything else seemed to be caving in. They were what kept me from freefalling backwards into the abyss. To have them ripped away from me – to have that security blanket ripped away, shredded, stomped on, pissed on and then set on fire – was as rage inducing as it was disorienting. No, this was bullshit. This wasn’t supposed to happen! GODDAMMIT, DOC BROWN, FIRE UP THE DELOREAN WE HAVE TO GO BACK AND FIX THIS. WE HAVE TO GO BAAAAAAAAAACK.

Ahem. Sorry for the all caps meltdown there, but that was where my head was at. At least partially. It was also in other places. Darker places. Uglier places. And I’m pretty sure that not even I can adequately describe them. Indeed, for the first time in the last few seasons I felt lost as a Lions fan.

Again, that sounds strange given that the Lions were 3-0 headed into the game and even with a loss they still seemed like they would be in pretty good shape going forward, but my faith in virtually every aspect of the team had been shaken. I still feel shaken even though they somehow, miraculously, managed to win the game.

But that’s just the thing – they did win the game. I’m still not sure how, and I know I have no way to describe it other than devolving into HEY DID YOU SEE THAT? DID YA? DID YA? style ranting and raving. At some point during my free-fall to the Abyss, I saw Bobby Carpenter fly by with the ball in his hands, running towards the endzone. I felt like Dorothy caught in the tornado, watching her world fly by. Just before that happened, I actually considered just turning off the TV and going for a walk, or fly fishing or beating up squirrels in the forest or digging my own grave, anything other than sitting there and watching . . . that.

But I stuck with it and I gritted my teeth and I smiled at Hell’s Gate and I laughed in the face of the wicked and the damned and then I laughed some more when Chris Houston somehow ripped the ball away from the receiver and tightrope walked down the sideline until he was standing alone in the endzone. Holy shit, it was only a ten point game. Suddenly, my spirit rushed back into my body, my soul lurched with something resembling stupid, wild eyed hope and I spent the rest of the game watching like I was in the midst of a ten month long meth binge.

By the time St. Calvin fell to the end zone for a second time with the ball in his hands, like some shooting star from heaven, I was only capable of speaking complete gibberish. I’m pretty sure I karate kicked my front door after the 19th penalty called on that Drive of the Doomed that happened just before the final victory drive. You all know the one I’m talking about. Now let us never speak of it again. It is at times like these that I will admit that I’m glad that I do not have children, otherwise I’m sure they would have been taken away by the state. As it is, the forks and spoons and knives in my kitchen are trembling in fear and I’m pretty sure my oven updated his will and included a note to his family to take revenge on me should something terrible befall him. I was out of my goddamned head.

But St. Calvin decided to come to our mortal plane once more and suddenly, somehow, I was alive and the Cowboys were weeping and Jerry Jones was making plans to burn a hooker or two with a cigarette lighter after the game. How . . . how did this happen?

I didn’t have time to answer that question because Tony Romo was suddenly flinging the ball down the field and . . . oh no. Not like this. Not like this!

Then The Great Willie Young arrived.

Yes, years from now, someone like me (as if there ever could be such a being) will sit down and write about the time that The Great Willie Young floated down from heaven and stole Tony Romo’s soul. I’m pretty sure it’s already been written into the Bible, somewhere in the back. Indeed. I’m not sure exactly what I said in the wake of The Great Willie Young’s soul saving sack in the waning seconds of this game, but I know I did a lot of wild eyed pointing and I’m pretty sure I made some noises that soundly vaguely like an orgasming horse. And I think it was in that moment that whatever faith I had lost during the game returned to me and suddenly nothing else mattered other than the fact that my Detroit Lions had somehow won this goddamn game.

There are lot of sphincter shrinking things to take away from this game, a lot of fretting and worrying to be done later, but for now, that’s the only thing I care about – the Detroit Lions won this game and I feel something between manic glee and joyful thanks. I have just started laughing randomly, like a dumb lunatic, simple and deranged, at various points since the game ended. Shit, I just did so in the middle of that last sentence. And, in the end, I guess that’s what I’m taking away from this game. I’m stripping out all the bullshit, all the savage reminders of that hell world I thought I wouldn’t have to see anymore, and I’m letting my own simpleton laughter cleanse my wounded soul. These are indeed strange times, but for some reason, they feel a little less terrible and a lot more wonderful and even though I still can’t quite put into words the totality of my feelings, the Lions are 4-0 and really, I suppose that’s all that matters.


BDR said...

On the plus side, it would appear Jimmy's car ride with Jeffy worked. Played pretty respectable today. All hail the Great Willie Young!

Neil said...

Yeah, there was some pressure for sure, but 0 sacks against Ware and Spencer.

Whiouxsie said...

I was immensely pleased to see the recap of this game on NBC just now and see that sack of Tony Romo. I don't think I've ever actually been able to see The Great Willie Young in game action before. As soon as they said "Willie Young" I went to the computer to check ACLB and what you had to say about it. No lie.

Good to see one of the ACLB crew finally get a win over Dallas to talk about.

Neil said...

Yeah, honestly, when it was 27-3 Dallas, I felt like my dudes had somehow let Raven Mack down. It's weird what this place will make you think at random times.

Azbadger03 said...

I don't want you to read the next sentence and to think I'm being critical. This last post was relatively bland by your standards. Between your comment in the first paragraph and my earlier tweet decrying the lack of available vocabulary to describe this Lions victory, we're almost to an unimaginable point as fans: What more can one say about this team???

Donnie said...

You've turned Willie Young into a cult hero, pretty fucking sweet.

Neil said...


I know. Instead of trying to invent a new language - which is what I would have had to do to describe this game - I just went with what I could. I actually considered just writing "Wow." and leaving it at that.

Neil said...

"You've turned Willie Young into a cult hero, pretty fucking sweet."

I felt like a proud father.

SwearyGeek said...


JP said...

After the third time that Tony Romo channeled his inner Rex Grossman and the TV crew was showing the OTHER douchebag Ryan brother, I was indeed reduced to odd grunts and wild howling and absurd amounts of flipping the bird towards the inanimate object that is my television. Felt pretty good though.

Lets hope once is an accident, twice is coincidence. If we have another first half like this I'm bound to be strapped to a fucking gurney in the mental ward. I seriously can't handle that type of abuse.

Neil said...

Yeah, I'll need a rag soaked in ether to get through another one of these damn things. Exciting but ... goddamn.

Neil said...



Matt said...

I've lived in Georgia for some time now, wife and friends have been forced to suffer the Lions with me forever. They're starting to become fans, but when the sack occurred and I started jumping up and down shouting "The Great Willie Young, The Great Willie Young!!!", they all paused and stared at me. Revelry continued after the pause.

Neil said...

lol excellent

CJ said...


Great summation of a very weird game. How do they look so BAD in the first half of these last games? Is it some spatiotemporal rift or parallel universe thing? Is it a variation of The Fear (which Matthew Stafford totally looked like he had in the first half, dude looked terrified and that broke my heart)? Can I blame Scott Linehan for it?

Anyways, this post was great, and the Of Mice and Jeff Backus was brilliant. I had this whole long thing I was typing out in response to it, but discovered to my horror that tears were streaming down my face. WTF! I actually had to take a couple day break from the internet.

Oh, and when Willie Young made that sack, I also went 'The Great Willie Young!' People looked puzzled for a second, but I just went 'What? It's Willie Young! He's awesome.' And they all started nodding and trying to act like they had always known this. This is not what happened when I used to slip up and make comments about the Lizard King. How does it feel to be a prophet?

I'd forgotten how annoying the media treatment of Dallas and the America's team nonsense is, and it was so fun to watch our guys squash it.

Anyways, wonderful post, looking forward to any stuff you have planned,and I hope Julius Peppers doesn't give Jeff Backus a rabbit, cause I weirdly love Jeff Backus now.

Bubbalouuey said...

I hope the Swartz takes all the kids to the farm to pet some rabbits this week, "A" game next week, I've got a weak rock & roll heart.

DarkStar said...

Couldn't watch this game since A: it wasn't being shown in BFE Kansas and B: My friends were all watching the Chiefs send the Drag Queens to 0-4 in the game of many Field Goals.

I had to look at the ESPN GameCast the whole time, watching little arrows move up and down the field. Even with only that, I was jumping up and down like a maniac by the time that Calvin had caught the TD to bring the Lions within 3. I'm pretty sure by the time St. Calvin caught the go-ahead TD that my wife was thinking about calling the authorities, since I was completely insane at that point.

Neil said...


Thanks so much for the kind words, as always. I'm glad you liked story time so much last week and I love hearing people recounting their awkward OMG THE GREAT WILLIE YOUNG reactions. Just delights me.

Anyway, thanks again, CJ.

Neil said...

"I hope the Swartz takes all the kids to the farm to pet some rabbits this week, "A" game next week, I've got a weak rock & roll heart."

Man, I hear ya. It'd be nice to be able to just sit back and watch the Lions kick ass from beginning to end without that whole First Half Stroke to worry about.

Neil said...

"I'm pretty sure by the time St. Calvin caught the go-ahead TD that my wife was thinking about calling the authorities, since I was completely insane at that point."

This team has turned us into a nation of mental patients. It's a good thing for everyone else that I was already insane. Follow me, everybody, I know what to do.