The Lions Fan Ghetto on Friday Night
I’ve been letting stray thoughts sort of coalesce into something useful before I wrote this but everything is still sort of a seething mass of inanity and so if this just comes across like a formless rant, the wild eyed gibbering of some deranged street preacher with a head full of acid and a heart full of hate, well, then forgive me. But goddamn, man, just . . . goddamn.
Anyway, I suppose I should start at the beginning. Yes. The beginning. That’s always a good idea in situations like these. Christ, I feel like I’m either giving a statement to the cops or addressing a support group for the criminally insane. But that’s sort of how I feel at the moment, so I guess it’s okay.
Okay, right, the beginning. Everything started fairly innocently enough. I mean, I have a weird love/hate relationship with the draft. Well, maybe it’s not so weird when you consider that there are a lot of people out there like me who understand where I’m coming from. At least I hope so or we are doomed as a species. I love the draft because it gives me a chance to see my team acquire fresh talent, new names, new faces, new stories, new . . . everything. It is a time of great hope, of possibility and the grandeur of dreams in their innocent youth. I also hate the draft because people are annoying and I hate them and I want to go stick my head in an oven.
Perhaps I should elaborate. The thing is, is when the draft rolls around everyone and their drunk uncle thinks that he’s an expert. Everyone has their little mock drafts, everyone thinks they know – note I said KNOW, not HAS A VAGUE IDEA – what their team HAS to do. It’s become a terrible thing, rotten and stupid. I know because I used to be sort of a mock draft junky myself – note I didn’t say a draft junky, I said a mock draft junky. Big difference. I used to pore through all the lists, see who was projected where and when and form Ideas and Thoughts and Beliefs and then Ideas and Thoughts and Beliefs turned into Convictions and Convictions turned into They Have To Do This And This And This Or Else Everyone Is An Idiot and then that turned into senseless hair pulling and wild gibbering because my team didn’t win the mock draft and goddammit, this shit is important you guys.
Except not really. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up a little bit. Okay, so prior to the draft this year, I did a senseless thing and decided to livetweet the draft – yes, that’s actually a thing now, stupid as it sounds. Naturally, this led to me getting completely out of control and getting thrown in Twitter jail – also, actually a thing (well, sort of anyway.) Basically, I was given the equivalent of a live microphone – always a dangerous thing – and I went fucking wild, saying every goddamn thing that came to mind until Twitter sent some dudes in with white coats to take my mic away, slap a straitjacket on me and escort me from the building. Somehow, this ended up with me doing the Twitter equivalent of riding around in a jeep a la Hard Harry in Pump up the Volume so the authoritahs couldn’t triangulate my position. I continued covering the draft this way through most of the rest of the night, surrounded by only a few dedicated friends and followers. Honestly, it was probably the most Armchair Linebacker way the whole night could have gone down.
So, anyway, the only reason I relate all that nonsense is to explain that things were already chaotic and entirely too stupid and the Lions hadn’t even made one goddamn pick yet. In retrospect, it was a powerful omen for the rest of the weekend.
When the Lions did finally pick, miraculously everyone seemed pretty happy with it. Building consensus amongst a fanbase is fucking impossible – as the rest of the weekend showed – and so we should all take the relatively sanguine way we collectively handled the Riley Reiff pick as a good sign. Or maybe it’s a bad sign given that by the time the weekend was over we proved that we were incapable of the basic thought patterns which allowed our ancestors to move, knuckles scraping, from the trees to the savannas many moons ago.
But that is what my high school English teachers would call “foreshadowing” before they sank into their chairs at the end of the day and drowned the stark, naked horror of their reality in a flask of powerful spirits. Anyway, the pick happened and we behaved like gentledudes and lady-gentledudes (gentleladydudes? I’m getting confused by my own lexicon here. Help me out.) all shaking hands, smiling, patting each other on the back and saying shit like “Good show, old bean,” and “Let’s play cricket on the morrow before retiring to an evening of brandy, poetry and sexual repression.” It was a civilized night – my shameful jailing notwithstanding – and it led to some high hopes for the rest of the weekend. Of course there was some minor grumbling, some harrumphs about David DeCastro and some slight nail biting and flop-sweat about the Lions not taking a defensive player, but all in all Lions fans were remarkably well-behaved, almost like they – gasp! – dared to trust Martin Mayhew and the gang.
And then Ryan Broyles was picked on Friday night and all hell broke loose. The gentlemen from the night before were suddenly beating each other to death with their croquet mallets, the ladies were wielding shotguns filled with hate and anarchy, dogs began howling and packs of raving lunatics began loping through the courtyard, hooting like feral apes, knuckles scraping, throwing their feces at anything and everything, the gentlemen dropped their now bloody croquet mallets and began dabbling in cannibalism, effigies of Martin Mayhew were hastily constructed and then burned by the naked and the damned and the whole world burned while the savages worshipped the fire and spoke in primitive grunts about the end times.
Somehow, I got caught up in all of this and much to everyone’s shock, tried to keep the peace. It was a futile effort that left me battered and embittered and I spent much of the rest of the night naked, hiding in a cave, prepared to beat the savages to death with their own leg bones. I think my role as The Voice of Reason actually shocked some people back into civility and rational thought. I mean, if I was the one telling people to chill out and take a few deep breaths before getting wild then maybe, just maybe, shit had gotten a tad too out of hand.
It wasn’t even the disagreement or trepidation with the pick, it was the instant reversion to LOL JUST LIKE MILLEN THE LIONS WILL NEVER CHANGE AMIRITE shit that was so awe-inspiringly stupid and mind-meltingly maddening. Let’s get that out of the way right fucking now, okay? This is not about people not liking the pick. I can talk to you guys. Hell, I did talk to you guys. There was disagreement and there was some sarcastic poop flinging done by both sides but in the end, we all remained relatively rational and sane people, all hiding in the same cave while the savages tore the rest of the world apart.
It’s those goddamn savages who ruined everything and to them I say this – fuck you. Fuck you, fuck you, annnnnd fuck you. These are the idiots who just wallow in their own misery and complain just to complain. It was insane. After the Lions picked Broyles, they went from criticizing the pick to inane vitriol about how the Lions draft strategy is terrible and about how Mayhew and the gang are worthless shitheads with no understanding of anything beyond the mechanics of spooning applesauce into their mongoloid heads. Suddenly, Mayhew and Schwartz were drooling idiots who had to wear special helmets every time they tried to brave the outside world. It was stupid and deranged and it left me wanting to roam the halls of MLIve with a shotgun and an ether rag.
I am not a man easily stunned. I pride myself on my ability to see this shit coming and prepare accordingly. But even I was shocked by the sheer level of hyperreactive insanity which took hold of Lions fans. All facts were ignored. All positive momentum obliterated. To these ingrates, we were suddenly back in the dark days of 2008 and we were all wailing like idiots on the cracked floor of hell. I guess I knew that these people existed – hell, I have made a habit of browbeating them and mocking them here so I definitely knew about them – but they existed as sort of a mutant subculture, easily ignored because they were just too stupid to worry about. They could sit in their tiny little cells and bleat like idiots, gibbering about THE SAME OL’ LIONS HUR HUR HUR because I assumed most of us had gotten past that. I mean, after all, 0-16 to 2-14 to 6-10 to 10-6 kinda speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
That’s the thing – the argument against these jackasses is so self-evident that there is almost no need to even make it. Anyone insisting that the Lions are still the same ol’ Lions, no different than the Millen-era Lions, are clearly living in some bizarre fantasy land in which they get off on their own masochistic ravings, jerking off like lunatics to their own pain, whipping themselves because they have become so twisted and perverted by the years of pain and chaos that to them their own misery has become its own kind of twisted joy. They live to bitch because, to them, that’s what being a fan means. It is an outlet for their own stupid rage. Rather than beating their wives and shotgunning their children to death in their own cribs, they sit at a keyboard and bitch about the Lions because that’s the only outlet for their misery.
Fuck them. I’ve had enough of their bullshit, with their self-indulgent tripe. These worshippers of The Fear are a fucking barnacle on our ship and we need to start scraping them off. Again, this has nothing to do with being critical or wondering if the Lions should have done something else. This has to do with the assholes who refuse to take one goddamn honest look at the situation and spend their time doing nothing but bitching and moaning and shitting all over anything and everything because they are stuck in a perpetual misery machine powered by their own bile, a picture of Matt Millen plastered in front of their eyes, eyes held open like in Clockwork Orange, while their brains turn to mush and their hearts to ash. They will never be happy because happiness is antithetical to what they get out of their fandom. Fuck them.
Every single one of those assholes will read this and gibber on about me being a Kool-Aid drinker or some other horseshit like that, conveniently forgetting that I am not exactly known as Mr. Sunshine myself. Hell, prior to 0-16, I was the only dude sitting here telling everyone that we were headed for chaos and disaster while everyone else was gibbering on about the playoffs and about Rod Marinelli finally being the right man for the job. I am not afraid to criticize. Hell, I am not afraid to outright abuse. I am the most vicious asshole this entire fanbase has so spare me the bullshit about me being some sort of hippie pacifist who thinks Love is the answer.
The funniest – and most ridiculous – part of it all is that after these assholes spent all of that second fateful day bitching and moaning and overturning cars and setting shit on fire because the Lions were ignoring defense in favor of –gasp! – another wide receiver, the Lions spent the rest of the draft picking nothing but defense, and - surprise! – this then led to those same people turning around and bitching because the Lions were taking too many cornerbacks. It was the most damning evidence possible of their fractured and idiotic view of the situation. It proved inarguably that all they care about is their God-given right to bitch and moan.
You can’t argue with them. There’s no point. They will just twist and backtrack and split logic in half with their axes of lies and argue inane points that have no bearing on the original issue. Arguing with them is a fool’s pursuit, a madman’s game and I’m fucking done with it. I’m fucking done with them, the sub-mutant ingrates. This is why I am not like the others, because the others are dumb and heinous and their mouth-breathing insipidity is an affront to all that is good and noble and decent. They are the idiot peasants banging at the gate with torches and pitchforks, demanding blood, fed only with stupid rage and the fire of their own self-contempt, in need of a target, any target, to distract them from the fact that they are, in fact, utterly worthless and that their lives are meaningless slogs. They are the cannon-fodder of the gods and I would pity them if they weren’t so goddamn contemptible. Instead, I piss on them and I drink their milkshakes and . . . I have gotten entirely too out of hand here, haven’t I?
I would apologize but that is what this whole stupid lost weekend has driven us to. It has made madmen and animals of us all. The night is dark and full of terrors and so is being a fan of the Detroit Lions, and it’s not because of the actual Detroit Lions anymore but because of that idiot sect of their fanbase who worship hatred and despair and lick the wounds of a crippled god because happiness and hope are so beyond them that embracing madness is their only twisted road to salvation. Sure, it’s a false salvation but people will cling to whatever bullshit gets them through the night.
As for the actual draft itself, well . . . I’m going to have to write an entirely separate post about that. I’m sorry it has come to that, but, well, there were things a man needed to say and this man has said them.
I will elaborate on one thing, though, and it’s something I touched on at the beginning of this rambling manifesto. The Mock Draft culture has finally reached the point where it is detrimental and just a goddamn headache to deal with. I mentioned that I used to dabble in this bullshit myself before I got clean and started going to meetings for other mock draft junkies where we all detailed our embarrassing experiences and comforted each other over coffee and cigarettes. You see, it’s all a bunch of bullshit. Nobody knows a goddamn thing, including all the idiot “experts.” Every year – every goddamn year – dudes who were supposed to be surefire second round picks fall to the seventh or don’t get picked at all. My own personal epiphany came the year when Michigan safety Ernest Shazor was supposed to be a borderline first round pick. Instead he wasn’t even drafted. BUT . . . BUT THE MOCK DRAFTS SAID HE WAS A SECOND ROUNDER. Yeah, and the mock drafts don’t know shit.
Again, this happens every fucking year and every year people bray like donkeys because their team doesn’t pick that year’s version of Ernest Shazor. If a “surefire” second-round pick is still there in the 7th, doesn’t it make more sense that the Mock Draft creators and connoisseurs fucked up rather than every single NFL team has suddenly developed an incurable case of space-madness? (Why space-madness? Well, doesn’t it just seem worse than regular madness?) I mean, it’s not just your team that’s passing him up. It’s every other team too and I’m guessing not all of them are run by drooling idiots. Sure, a few are but trust me, you don’t know better than the dudes who run the Patriots or the Steelers, even though you read paragraph long scouting reports on all the players and spent every night watching Youtube highlight videos (they’re called HIGHlight videos for a reason, you know?) instead of actually spending time with your wife and kids. I’m sorry to tell you this, but just because you spend hours poring over highlights with shitty dubstep soundtracks while your wife sighs and pleasures herself with a vibrator because you are staring slackjawed at your computer screen for the 168th night in a row, it doesn’t make you an expert on anything other than being a goddamn fool.
And that’s the biggest problem with draft day. Leaving aside all the roving packs of idiots I discussed earlier, even rational people get tripped up by the draft because they fall in love with their mock drafts. They judge everything based on what their mock draft says, not on what their team – and the dudes who run it – do. It comes down to this – do you trust Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz? If you do then everything else should be irrelevant. I know that is overly simplistic, but the point is this: if they determine that a specific player fits their system and, more importantly, their plan, and you trust them and their plan, and they go out and make it a point to grab that player, like they did with Broyles or with Tahir Whitehead later in the draft, then don’t you sorta have to give that precedence over your own fascination with your mock draft? I mean, it’s not like they just shrugged and picked a guy. They targeted these dudes and then went after them. At that point, you have to ask yourself why you’re upset and if you still have a problem, then it’s with their philosophy and not with their decision making within that philosophy.
And that brings up the issue of trust. If you do find yourself questioning their philosophy – and that’s okay, within reason anyway – just remind yourself that they took an 0-16 team, which I’ll remind you is basically worse than an expansion team – and took them to 10-6 and the playoffs within 3 years. That’s fucking amazing and to me, that’s something that has earned my trust. To me, questioning these dudes’ philosophy after what they have accomplished is fucking crazy. What they have accomplished is damn near miraculous and it hasn’t been done with smoke and mirrors either. This hasn’t been some random turn-around, the sort of phantom playoff run that, say, the Jacksonville Jaguars make every once in a while. No, this has been a result of a sustained adherence to a larger plan, and that plan has been pretty self-evident – pass the ball on offense, and rush the passer on defense. They have drafted to those strengths, consistently and with success over the last few years. Anyone arguing that they haven’t is either a liar or completely insane.
Their philosophy is forward thinking. It understands the new reality of the NFL. It’s all about who can throw the ball. Anyone who doesn’t understand that just hasn’t been paying attention. It’s an arms race and the Lions have made it a point to stockpile as many weapons as they can on both sides of the ball. On offense, they are loading up on receivers, much like the Packers and Saints. You don’t need two or three top receivers anymore. You need four or five. People arguing that Ryan Broyles is redundant and that he has nowhere to play are missing the point – the numbers have changed, the position breakdowns have changed. You need a deep well, filled with receivers, if you’re going to keep up now. Defensively, the Lions have put a premium on rushing the passer. Their philosophy is that in order to stop a passing game – and create turnovers – you need to take away the quarterback’s ability to throw the ball. If you can do this effectively, your secondary doesn’t necessarily need to be stocked with All-Pros. Do the Lions need better cornerbacks? Yeah, they do. And they know that. Hence, their drafting of three straight corners in the draft on day three. I know that’s not good enough for some people since they want someone who can step in and start right now at cornerback but that dude wasn’t there. I don’t care who you point to, when the Lions had their opportunity to draft, that dude wasn’t there.
Everyone wants immediate starters when it comes to the draft, and that’s another issue that has just gotten in the way here. When your team is a piece of shit, yes, that is what you want. When you have a playoff team, no, you don’t want that because if you’re drafting dudes to start it means that you have to rely upon a rookie as a starter at a key position and let me tell you something, most rookies aren’t very good. This is why the Lions never drafted anyone to replace Jeff Backus right away until this year. It’s because whoever they drafted wasn’t going to be any better than what they already had. Sure, they could have drafted a cornerback just to draft one, and that would have made some people happy, but that philosophy ends up with you reaching for players all the time and that shit never works out. If you don’t believe me ask Jordan Dizon. That’s the sort of shit that Matt Millen did – drafting and signing guys because they filled a perceived need, regardless of fit – and it’s fucking insane to see people arguing that’s what the Lions should do today. Everyone hates Matt Millen for the shitshow he subjected us all to, but it’s become increasingly clear that a lot – and I do mean a lot – of Lions fans have no clue why he was so bad. It’s maddening and comical to see them bitching at Mayhew and Schwartz and demanding that they do the exact same sort of shit that Millen did. It’s fucking insane and I don’t even know what else to say.
This has been a lot longer than I anticipated. That’s because this weekend from hell created a lot of shit to talk about. The crazy thing is I haven’t even really talked about the dudes the Lions actually drafted. In fact, I meant to roll the whole draft philosophy thing into another post in which I talked about the actual particulars of the Lions draft but I got carried away. One thing led to another and now here I sit, almost 4,000 words later, my eyes feel like they’re fried, my fingertips are starting to get sore and I’m making typos all over the goddamn place. So, I guess I’ll just leave you with this final thought – it’s time to grow up. The self-indulgent wallowing in the misery of the past has to end. Fuck Matt Millen and fuck your clinging to him like a life-raft, to your keeping of him in some sort of glass case that you can break open whenever you need an excuse for your own worship of The Fear. This is not the same ol’ Lions and if you think a single second round draft pick is indicative of anything, you probably need to chill the fuck out. I love you dudes and lady dudes, but goddamn. Just . . . goddamn.