Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Bad Boys Cometh

By now, everyone’s heard about the Lions being referred to as the “Evil” in the Good vs. Evil article put up on the NFL’s own website last week, right? I won’t link to it both because I am lazy and because, well, fuck them. Basically, the article’s premise is that the Broncos, led by the Tebow Child represent all that is good about the NFL, America and the general human condition while the Lions are headbanging to old Slayer albums with Satan down in hell because Ndamukong Suh and the boys are all awful people who sacrifice goats and steal virgins from castles and bark at the moon on their off-days. At least that seems to be the general consensus. And you know what? Cool. Bring it the fuck on.

The Lions have been cast as bad guys, by the sensationalistic media, by the lying devil tongue of Roddy White, even by the NFL. If that’s the storyline those assholes wants to weave, then fine by me. You see, I grew up loving a certain basketball team that everyone called the Bad Boys. I worshipped a Michigan basketball team that dangled its collective nutsack on the foreheads and chins of bewildered white bread opponents. I read Ken Stabler’s autobiography – which I have talked about so many times here that I feel like the motherfucker should start paying me to be his new publicist – over and over and over again, and every time I developed more and more love for those old Raiders teams of the ‘70s. I was fascinated by them. They made their own rules and in the process scared the shit out of the entire league. They intimidated everyone and they won all the damn time. How could I not love that?

Therefore, my formative years were spent worshipping teams that everyone else hated. They were spent sitting in the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills, watching the Pistons beat the shit out of Michael Jordan while some crazy asshole ran around the court with a fucking pirate flag and the crowd went wild. Shit, for a 10 year old boy, that was like heaven. If Isiah Thomas would have jumped a dirtbike over a T-Rex while Metallica played For Whom the Bell Tolls, I probably would have chained myself to the seat and refused to leave. I watched in slack-jawed glee as Jalen Rose tried to fight the entirety of Duke University and everything it culturally represents. I was raised on rebels and thugs, on Bad Boys and modern day Robin Hoods. This was the soul of Detroit. This was the soul of a people, my people. Fuck you, Prince John. Fuck you, Sheriff of Nottingham. Fuck you, Coach K.

I’m getting carried away, but goddammit, I need everyone to feel this, to understand just where it is that I am coming from when I say that not only should the Lions be okay with this whole Good vs. Evil thing, they should embrace it. Screw it, Al Davis is dead. He’s not gonna complain. Give Roary a fucking pirate flag and have him run around Ford Field. Shit, he already mugged Jamaal Charles and ruined his season. Have Ndamukong Suh and the boys run out onto the field looking like extras from Mad Max or from Tupac’s California Love video. You want us to be the bad guys? Well say hello to the fucking bad guys.

After the Lions win over the Broncos last week, I heard some bullshit complaining, some finger wagging hysterical OH GOD THINK OF THE CHILDREN nonsense from the Maud Flanders wing of the fanbase, saying that they were sad and disgusted because the Lions reminded them of those old Raiders teams. All I could think was yeah, you’re goddamn right, and then I laughed and cackled with manic glee. That’s exactly what I want my team to look like. That’s the attitude I want them to have.

And really, that’s what this is all about. Attitude. Swagger. Whatever you want to call it, that’s what this is about. It’s not about playing dirty or even talking a steady stream of trash. It’s about a state of mind. I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. Against the Broncos, after sacking Tim Tebow, Stephen Tulloch mocked the shit out of him, right in front of his own teammates, his own fans, in his own stadium and nobody did shit about it. Everyone just took a picture and then laughed at Tebow. That’s attitude. But what’s even more, uh, attitudinal, is that this would never happen if you reversed the circumstances. If someone sacked Matthew Stafford and then egregiously mocked him in front of the whole world, one of the Lions would have punched that motherfucker right in the face. Tebow’s Broncos teammates just hung their heads low and slinked off the field. That’s the difference right there. That’s why attitude is important. The Lions will mock you and they’ll fucking fight you because they’ve got that attitude, that swagger, that passion that separates the good teams from the hopeless shitbags like the Broncos. Are the Lions more talented? Yeah. But they didn’t beat the Broncos just because they were more talented. They beat the Broncos because they fucking beat them down, because they wanted to mug them, because they had to, because that’s what attitude is – it’s snarling at anyone who fucks with you, it’s you against the world, it’s smashing some poor fool just because he gets in your way. It’s raw, naked primal hunger.

Of course, the downside to getting a reputation like this is that everyone hates you. But so what? If everyone hates you, it just means that you’re doing something right, you know? It makes me happy to see people spitting with venom when they talk about the Lions now. It sure beats the hell out of having to be patted on the head like some poor stray mongrel that everybody feels bad for. I’m sick of being a mongrel. I want to be a pitbull from hell, a demon beast with swords for teeth and chainsaws for claws. Pat us on the head now and we’ll eat that fucking hand.

So, really, that’s not much of a downside for me. I love that Us Against the World kind of mentality, that backed into the corner no choice but to rip your throat out and then gnaw on your bones mentality. I want my dudes to be bloodsoaked beasts, terrible wraiths from hell, riding Pale Horses bringing death with them as they ride out of the haze and all the villagers scream and run, panicked, looking for a hole to hide in like the cowards that they are.

The true downside to getting this sort of reputation is that the shitheaded refs start to pick on you. They start to use your reputation against you and then Sheriff Goodell starts fining and suspending dudes and pretty soon that Lizard Pereira is on TV talking about how Ndamukong Suh should be exiled to hell for giving Jay Cutler a piledriver or, you know, just pushing him to the ground. But that’s the price you pay, you know?

The truth is – and this is something that a lot of people don’t seem to realize – is that your greatest strength is also often your biggest vulnerability. I know, I know, that sounds like some cheap dimestore fortune cookie wisdom, but I think that it’s true. At least it is in this case. The Lions swagger, their attitude, their Bad Boy aggressiveness is what sets them apart from other teams. It’s what makes them special. Like I said, they didn’t beat the shit out of Tebow and the Broncos just because they were more talented. No, they fucking mauled Tebow and the Broncos because of that swagger, that attitude, because of everything that makes them Detroit’s newest Bad Boys. But that’s also why they give up big plays from time to time, because they have a single minded Terminator like goal: Kill the Quarterback. It’s why they get called for all manner of bullshit penalties, from The Great Willie Young taking a hatchet to Jay Cutler’s skull to Ndamukong Suh getting called for palming the skull of some helpless offensive lineman.

But the Lions are smart too. They aren’t just waving their dicks in everyone’s faces and then whining when people try to slice them off. Ndamukong Suh just met with Sheriff Goodell in what was basically a preemptive move. It was as much about letting everyone know that he’s being unfairly targeted as it was about coddling the Sheriff. It was about letting everyone see that he was taking steps to make sure that everyone was on the same page. The media seems to want to frame it as Suh asking for help, trying to find ways to clean up his game, but that’s all bullshit. This was done so that Suh could basically let the Sheriff and his posse know that this was what he was all about and they better get on board because if they fuck with him after this then everyone will know that, hey, Suh tried to talk with them, tried to reason with them, to get them to understand that he’s not a dirty player, he’s just a bad motherfucker and the NFL is sadly no place for a bad motherfucker these days.

It’s true. The NFL is a soft league. I will not call the NFL’s officials and players and coaches and assorted Pereiras (Pereirii?) pussies because that is an insult to pussies which are wonderful and which have made this world a better place to live in. These soft idiots have instead tried to ruin the game that I love. They don’t provide me with any pleasure or happiness at all. But weird semantic digressions aside, the point is that in today’s soft environment, a true bad motherfucker like Suh has to be proactive. He has to take the fight to the man, put that shifty Sheriff of Nottingham on his heels. Don’t give that asshole room to maneuver against you. Ndamukong Suh did to Roger Goodell just what he does to opposing quarterbacks. He closed the distance between them in a terrifying heartbeat and left the rat bastard no room to move. Just take your sack Sheriff Goodell and beg for mercy.

Of course, I recognize that there is a portion of the fanbase who are preconditioned to root for someone like the Tebow Child instead of a Pirate Warrior King like Ndamukong Suh, and there’s not a whole lot I can say to them here. If you disapprove of the way that the Lions carry themselves – if you don’t like Chris Houston dancing like Deion or Calvin Johnson walking the last five yards to the endzone or Tony Scheffler’s awe-inspiring touchdown dances (Seriously, in the celebration against the Broncos he managed to mock both Tebow and the Broncos stupid Mile High Salute at the same time. It was amazing.) or Stephen Tulloch mocking Tebow while Tebow writhed in pain on the turf – well . . . shit, I don’t know what to tell you. That’s your team right there. That’s what will make them great and if you want to settle for less than that simply to appease some bullshit childish sense of morality, then you are just in the way and if you would be so kind as to just shut up and let the rest of us have our fun, I’d be forever grateful.

You see, the thing is, is this is football. This is sport. If you are upset because you’re worried that your children aren’t getting good role models, then you need to do a couple of things: first, drown the child in the bathtub because clearly he or she is a waterbrained idiot if they are incapable of separating what happens on the football field from what happens in real life and need to take their cues from a fucking football player (also, perhaps you should be asking yourself why your child needs to look beyond his own home for worthwhile role models. I’m just saying.) and second, if you do have faith that one day your child will be able to function like an actual adult, someone who will be able to appreciate the nuances that permeate every aspect of day to day life, sit down and talk to them and explain that it’s okay to have fun in certain aspects of life, like on the football field, but that maybe they should chill and be a little more respectful in school. Sit down with them and explain to them the differences. Explain to them that life is filled with different circumstances and that each circumstance requires its own set of rules, its own behavioral standards. Explain this to them. Teach them. In short, be a parent instead of lazily foisting that responsibility off on a bunch of young millionaire football players. If this is too hard for you, then feel free to drown yourself in that same bathtub because you’re a fucking terrible parent and you’re just making the world a shittier place for everyone else.

Whoa. Not sure where that came from, but I feel like it needed to be said. The heart of all of that wild real talk is this: football is a game. It is not real. It has no consequences beyond its own inherent consequences. If Stephen Tulloch mocks Tim Tebow a tiny island in the Pacific isn’t going to be struck by a Tsunami. If Tony Scheffler does an obscene touchdown dance the stock market isn’t going to plunge 1,000 points in a single day. If The Great Willie Young eats Jay Cutler’s soul . . . okay, fine, bad example. The point is this: there is absolutely no reason to emulate the sort of meek humility of Tim Tebow on the football field. After all, let’s not forget, Jesus died. I want my players to be the Romans, spearing everyone to death and crucifying Tebow. I don’t want them to be the ones hanging from the cross. Before you get all offended, just remember that I am talking about what happens on the football field. Football is fake, man. It’s a fucking game and if you’re not playing the game to win, then get the fuck out of here. After the game, if you want the Lions to be good little Christian Soldiers then hey, that’s great. But, shit, on the field, I don’t want them to be Daniel. I want them to be, well, the Lions.

And, in the end, that’s what this is really all about. Football, and sport in general, is a fantasy, a place of simulated warfare, a place where the human spirit is allowed – shit, encouraged – to be savage and barbaric and primal. It is ritualized savagery, the embracing of the dark heart of the human condition, of everything that we suppress within ourselves on a day to day basis. Root for Ndamukong Suh ripping his coworkers head off because you can’t. Root for the Lions to be, deep down, what you wish you could be.

This is threatening to carom into the world of the Philosophical and the Abstract and while that shit is kind of my wheelhouse, I don’t want it to take away from the fundamental truth, which is that the Detroit Lions are at their best when they are the Bad Boys. Deep down, everybody knows it. Shit, Jim Schwartz knows it. Yeah, he bitched and was all HEY COME ON NOW THIS IS BULLSHIT when that article came out but that’s because that’s what he’s supposed to do. If he didn’t then the fine line between passionate ass-kickery and anarchic barbarism would be obliterated. The Lions are doing a savage dance, but a dance which is surprisingly delicate, two-stepping on a tightrope, reaching one hand into chaos while keeping a foot tethered to civilization. They are tapping into the primal, into the savage, into the chaotic, a place of frightening power and they are using it to get that razor fine edge over other teams. Understand that. Above all, understand that. See it for what it is and encourage it. The Lions haven’t stepped over any lines. Jim Schwartz gets this. Hell, he’s the one leading the charge, fighting with other coaches, dropping countless F Bombs during games. He’s the one setting the tone for his players and he knows what he’s doing. Trust in that and have no fear, the motherfucking Bad Boys are here. Maybe that was a bit corny, but I don’t give a shit. I am out of my head and corniness is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is this: it’s us against the world and frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


CJ said...


This was just a tremendous, tremendous piece. Absolutely the exact thing I was dying to read about the league's incredibly hypocritical good vs. evil thing. Ties for my favorite response to it with Stephen Tulloch's "Coach showed us this thing. It was funny."

My favorite parts: 1. Pointing out that the Lions are very, very smart. That has been the most delicious part of this whole season. While everyone clutches their pearls and rants about COMPOSURE or whatever...the Lions have no off field missteps that I can think of. No one is strangling their girlfriend, whining about their number of catches, or stealing underwear. Seriously, I know of no reasons I should dislike any dude on our team, and that is amazing in the NFL. They are not being stupid on or off the field. Second, I loved the stuff on football being emotional catharsis, and I cannot imagine a team being more cathartic in that respect than the Lions. Again, in the words of Stephen Tulloch, "football is a GAME". (I know we're full up on cheetah gods, and feral mascots and the devil D-line, but I think Tulloch might be a prophet, and someone should be writing down all his teachings. I am not being sarcastic. I think he's awesome.).

Beautiful beautiful post, Neil. And awesome game. I spent the first half laughing my ass off (My mother's take on the TEBOWING: "It's kind of remarkable that he is the first Christian to play in the NFL.") and the second half coming up with a bizarre theory on Plato and Stafford (who was awesome).

Anyways, please keep writing when you have a chance. It's always a lift for a ton of people, I would bet, to see something new by you.

Also, if deer blowjobs are only potentially painful, then you must be only consorting with female deer, and not being a heathen. I'm sure Roger Goodell is relieved.

Neil said...

Thank you, CJ.

And honestly, comments like this are why everyone needs to read the comments after the posts. Honestly, best comment section in the universe right here and it's because of posts (fuck it, I don't even want to call them comments - a comment like this from CJ deserves to be called a full on post) like this.

I think that's my favorite part of writing about the Lions is how everything gets kind of intertwined here. I view CJ, UpHere, JP and a whole host of others as just as integral to this whole weird story as what I do. I actually meant to write a little post about this very topic - and I might still - but I suppose it's appropriate that I address it here, in the comment section. CJ, no one might ever read this other than you and me, but that's fine. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your input. It helps give shape to whatever this thing is that I'm trying to do here. It gives me a ton to think about and I spend half my time reading your comments just nodding my head. In short, you're awesome and I feel incredibly lucky that you - and all the people who comment/post here - take the time to do so.

So, to sum up, thanks for both the kind words and the awesome perceptive ones which accompany them.

Mike said...

Neil, your posts are amazing. I absolutely love your insight. Its a real shame that people have forgotten what real football is. Monsters of the midway, Purple people Eaters, Mean Joe Green, Dick Butkis, Ronnie Lott, etc. Those players would never be able to play under the ridiculous rules they are trying to force players to play under now. Its amazing but I cant remember one player being killed because of a vicious hit from a LB or SS while coming over the middle to catch a pass. John Lynch even made a point to say he couldnt play in todays football because he wouldnt have any money left after all the fines. That is really sad considering he was one of the best safeties ever to play. Its a true shame that Goodell has made himself judge jury and executioner. And considering the things he is trying to legislate out of football is all the things that has made this game so great, he might be signing the games death sentence. Look at the NHL, they were actually starting to grow their fanbase before taking most of the fighting away that has been a staple of the game from the beginning...then going on strike at the peak of their rise...and now they are having to start over building again because they have taken away its one main ingredient. The fighting and big hits in hockey were the big draw for it and they decided to pussify its game so they didnt turn any new fans off with the blood and violence. Goodell is doing the same damn thing. He is trying to take away the violence in the game and its one of, if not THE most, important parts of the game. It lets us pussies in the stands and at home getting fat on our couches release our aggressions with the world through the gladiators on the field. Violence is what has made football head and shoulders above baseball because we needed an outlet. Just as watching the Christians being eaten by the lions used to be. Well I really only starting typing this to say you are dead on when it comes to the feelings of the TRUE Lions fans. Keep up the good work and I'll stop my ranting now.

Neil said...

Oh man, thanks, Mike. And ... yeah, I saw a dude get flagged on Monday night for a beautiful shoulder to the chest hit. It was fucking ridiculous. You can't even hit a dude hard anymore. Like, they've subtly managed to change it from "No head shots" to "no leading with your head" to "you might sprain that man's vagina if you do that so here's a flag". Fucking ridiculous.

KDawg said...

A-fucking-MEN BROTHER!! While I agree with you almost entirely, my only caveat (or thing to add) would be this: Our guys need to keep playing with the same attitude and swagger, and they need to be mean and dominant, BUT they also need to be under enough control that they properly do their jobs. A perfect example is Suh in the Broncos game. Finally, through being told by the coaches or by watching film and coming to some great epiphany, Suh stopped over pursuing on every single run play. The result was none of the Denver runners breaking off any huge explosion plays. True, they did rush for 195 yards combined, but it wasn't like the Frank Gore and Michael Turner runs, where they were at will. As long as our guys play under control, I don't care how bad they are...because the Lions will be winning football games. Great post!

Bubbalouuey said...

I'm new here but have yet to read a bad article from Neil, hands down he owns this place IMHO. Whatever he gets paid if anything just is not enough. I just hope he is writing a new script for the new Lions movie, not a remake of Paper Lion, but updated for today, kinda like a Lion Blue Mountain State. Or maybe a novel of some sort or whatever, hey I'm just glad I found this place.

Neil said...


Thanks, man. And yeah, I noticed that the Lions focused a bit more on stopping the run against the Broncos. Maybe they tweaked a few things. Really, the only reason the Lions gave up 195 yards rushing is because they basically let Tebow and the Broncos run around in the 4th quarter, well after the game was over and it didn't really matter anymore. Much improved over the few games before.

Neil said...


Ha ha, thanks man. I've got my creative fingers in several different honeypots. Wait, that sounded kind of obscene . . .