Thanks to the dullards at Fox, I had to sit and wait with nervous anticipation while the Saints and Falcons finished up their overtime hijinks. By the time they cut to the Lions game against the Bears half the first quarter was gone, the Lions had already fumbled twice and the score was 7-0 Bears. I tell you this not just so that you’ll get as accurate as possible an understanding of my own game experience but so that you can understand that there was not one point while I was watching that game in which I felt any sort of happiness. I mean, even in the worst games there is always at least those few opening moments when anything and everything is possible and in which Hope rides a magic rainbow to the heavens and all that happy horseshit, but this game was so singularly terrible that I was not even allowed that momentary glimmer of anything resembling happiness. No, instead I was thrown right into the midst of a firestorm of Bennie Hill absurdity. Seriously. I’m pretty sure that at one point I saw Julius Peppers rubbing Gunther Cunningham’s head and then a bunch of bikini girls ran around in super-fast motion and then Matthew Stafford was beaten over the head by an old lady with a cane. Then again, that might be the ether talking. Who knows?
No, but really, this was one of those ridiculous games that felt like it existed in a singular moment of time concocted in hell in which every single terrible thing that has ever happened to us as Lions fans existed simultaneously. It was so bad that I was half-surprised that Jim Schwartz didn’t win the toss and take the wind after being possessed by the ghost of that fool Marty Mornhinwheg. (I don’t know if I spelled that right. I could look it up. Then again, fuck you.) I’m not sure when that random coin toss would have taken place but the officiating was so shitty that it wouldn’t have surprised me if they had stopped the game midway through the third quarter just so they could flip a coin. I mean, why not?
There is so much to complain about, so much to bitch about, that there’s almost no point in doing it. The whole game sucked, the whole team sucked and I feel like I have been debased because I watched it and them. There. The end.
I guess if there was one thing we need to talk about, one horrific and disturbing crime against humanity that can’t be ignored it’s the play of young Matthew Stafford. Oh, Matty, where did we go wrong? One day you were a T-Rex flying a fighter jet, hanging out of the cockpit with a bazooka in one arm and a blonde with enormous cans in the other and the next day you were melting down like Private Pyle, slinking to the sideline like someone shit in your mouth, staring slackjawed, dazed and stupid, while I did what I thought would never happen and spent the end of the game gibbering on Twitter about Scott Mitchell, much to the horror of, well, everyone.
I don’t like it either, but it’s true. Matthew Stafford looked like Scott Mitchell out there. A few weeks ago I compared him to Joey Harrington. Needless to say, things aren’t going to well in Whoville right now, and as much as I don’t want to be the fucking Grinch, it would be cowardly to ignore this tawdry and terrible shit. Matthew Stafford is a mess right now. Just an absolute fucking mess. I don’t know what is going on and I suspect neither does he. Right now he looks worse than he did even as a rookie. At least then he seemed confident. Now, he just looks like the shellshocked survivor of some terrible atrocity. Shit, I’m afraid to read Slaughterhouse Five because I’m convinced that Stafford will show up as a character at some point. Yes, things have taken a turn for the wildly ugly when I am comparing Lions games to the bombing of Dresden, but . . . well, this is what went down today. I didn’t do it, so don’t blame me, I’m just a messenger. Besides, things are gonna get a whole lot more offensive here later on. Just wait and see.
I do have a confession to make: after Stafford’s second pick-six in the third quarter, I turned the TV off and did some other shit. (I won’t tell you the details, but I’m now deathly afraid of horses and barbed wire and I had to burn a good pair of pants.) I wasn’t even mad. I was more . . . astounded, like I couldn’t believe the depth to which this shit parade had sunk. I mean, say what you will about Matthew Stafford – and I’ve been grumbling a lot this season about him from almost the first game, which, given his stats prior to what went down earlier, seemed kind of outrageous and ridiculous but I feel like my point was made in a terrible, terrible way today – but at least he hadn’t been throwing interceptions this season. He was struggling to make plays on a down to down basis but at least he wasn’t giving the ball to the other team. So for him to throw not only back to back interceptions but back to back pick sixes on absolutely horrible throws that would have gotten him chewed out by a Pop Warner coach felt almost impressive in a way. It was like I had already accepted that I was going to get cornholed by a failure demon but then it was like “Oh shit, you want to put your hell-dick where? Well, okay, but I’ve never done this before . . .” I’m just saying, it was such a ridiculous meltdown that even through my pain and despair there was a part of me that was able to appreciate the sheer ridiculousness of the scale of it. I suppose that’s what the ancients would call “total defeat.”
But I naturally began to feel guilty for not watching and my brain began to do that weird thing where it started to imagine ridiculous comeback scenarios and so I trudged back to my television, wearing a fresh pair of pants and turned it on just as a Chicago Bear was racing down the field following an interception and then a gang war broke out on the field. Well, okay then. Message received.
I then spent the rest of the game only halfheartedly following the action and openly discussing the joys of death on Twitter. I’m not proud of it. I mean, I tend to pride myself on my ability to hang tough even when things go to Ludicrous Speed on the old Shitometer but goddammit, I just couldn’t do it this time. And why should I? I have suffered enough as a Lions fan and I had seen enough to know that this game was just one big blast zone and that nothing good would come from it. Shit, the players probably won’t even watch the game tape. Just burn the fucking thing and store the ashes in that warehouse where they stuck the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. So I decided to cleanse myself of the rest of the experience. Call it cowardice, call it an exercise in self-preservation, call it whatever the hell you want, but I have no regrets.
Thankfully, though, a reader named Ben was at the game and sent me this first-hand account of the experience. I know this will be hard to read, but it’s important that we never forget so that we can begin to heal as a people and then move on. Anyway, here it is (and yes, this is probably the most offensive thing I have ever done here at Armchair Linebacker and this would get me fired from any other gig, but fuck it, I’m the goddamn boss here and besides, I plead temporary insanity brought on by terrible grief.):
“I'd heard rumors that the Lions were going to Soldier Field. But I didn't know what Soldier Field meant. I didn't know what "extermination camp" meant. People told me, but I couldn't imagine or understand it. We were rounded up and packed into cattle cars like sardines. We could not move our arms or legs. We traveled for two days -- day and night. The heat was unbearable. Then one morning at dawn, we looked through the cracks in the cattle car. I saw the name Soldier Field or Oswiecim in Polish. I was paralyzed. I got numb. I didn't feel anything. When daylight came, they slid the car door open. All we heard was, "Raus, raus, get out of here, get out of here!" I had to crawl over people who had died from the heat and from lack of food and water.
When they opened the doors to the cattle car, we jumped off as quickly as we could because we were under orders. Men with the skulls on their hats and collars stood in front of us stretched out at intervals about every ten feet. The officer in charge stood with his German shepherd. The officer had one foot propped up on a little stool. We lined up and filed by him. Right there the selection took place. As each person passed by him, he pointed left or right. The thumb left and right was your destiny. The people sent to the left went to the gas chambers, and we went to the right.
They told us we were going to be given some new clothing, but before that, we were sent into the showers. Luckily, when we turned the faucets we saw water instead of gas. We started washing ourselves. We got out and stood there. We were deloused because we had lice. One guard stood there putting some kind of a chemical on our heads. Another put it under our arms. A third one shaved our heads.
Then we were given some prisoner's uniforms, very similar to the uniforms a prison chain gang used to wear here. We got wooden shoes. We didn't get the sizes we normally wore. We had to make do with what we got. Then we were lined up again in single file and tattooed on the forearm. My number was B-3348.
We were marched to the field. Above the entrance was an arch with an inscription which said in German, Work Makes Men Free, pretending that this was a work camp. There were two rows of barracks with a wide street between them. In front of us was a crematorium and gas chambers. We smelled the flesh of human bodies burning. We couldn't mistake that smell for anything else.”
And there you have it.