Well . . . I’m back.
I considered writing just those three simple words, posting them and then seeing what happens but let’s face it, brevity is not my strong suit and besides, I figured I owed y’all at least a little explanation of where I’m at inside this strange place known as my brain, so let’s just start at the point where we left off and see how this thing goes, okay? Okay. (Oh, a quick note before we get on with it: this post will be embarrassingly self-indulgent, self-obsessed and any other word or phrase that starts with “self” you can think of. Forgive me, please. Just know that I’m aware of it and it’s making me cringe just thinking about it. It is, I fear, unfortunately necessary and so if you can handle all that bullshit, come with me, my crazy friends.)
So, anyway, yeah, I quit. I quit because I was burned out and because I had begun to approach this whole writing about the Lions thing with a sense of ponderous dread. That is, of course, an overstatement but hey, have you met me?
It wasn’t so much the writing as it was the expectations. And when I say expectations, I don’t mean any expectations that anyone had for me but the ones I had for myself. A little secret: I am a terrifying perfectionist. I know it may not seem like it, but I am. This doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in aesthetic ways. I mean, I’m not sitting around wringing my hands because a picture doesn’t format properly or anything. I don’t give a fuck about that stuff – obviously. I’m a perfectionist in that I’m constantly reaching for some unattainable idea floating around in my head. I hear thunderous music in there, beautiful, epic shit and it’s damn near impossible to try to capture it the way that I want to, to translate it so that you can all experience the vivid grandeur of my inner monologue. I know that sounds ridiculous but again, have you met me?
Anyway, so . . . yeah. I walked away. I walked away before I started to hate it, started to resent my own obsessive need to be perfect. It had gotten harder and harder for me to write simply because the better I get, the better I want to be and forgive me for saying it but I got pretty goddamn good. Well, the thing is, is that pretty goddamn good wasn’t good enough for me and so I kept pushing myself and pushing myself until pretty soon the simplest things felt like rolling a goddamn boulder uphill. I constantly felt like I was trying to harness lightning, to lasso it and then ride it through the night sky, and that shit will burn you right the fuck up.
On top of that, I wasn’t sure what to say anymore. I hadn’t lost the narrative or anything. It’s just that it, well, it changed a little bit and I wasn’t sure if I was the dude to write about it anymore. The Lions were actually – gasp! – a good football team and somehow my style didn’t seem like it was quite right anymore. But if I’m honest with myself, that was just me rationalizing my own need to walk away for a while. The story had changed but it wasn’t over. It isn’t over.
I recognized all that pretty quickly and I’ll tell you another little secret: within, like, two weeks after I put the Gone Fishin’ sign on the site I knew I was going to come back. Eventually, anyway. I wasn’t quite sure when and I wasn’t even quite sure where, but I knew I couldn’t just sit back and not do this anymore. The story wasn’t done yet and neither was I.
Of course, I felt like a dumb asshole. I mean, I made this goddamn production out of saying “Fuck it, I’m out,” and everybody said a bunch of nice shit to me and so I felt like a dickhead. Of course, there were dudes who told me I was just going to pull a Favre come August and well, it’s August and I guess I better start wearing Wranglers from now on. I mean, shit, I don’t want to be Favre. That is an ugly thing to say, despicable and gross but here we are. I’ll do my best to refrain from sending you all pics of my dick while I lounge around naked in Crocs but all bets are off if the Lions season goes south. I’m just saying, no promises. If the Lions start the season 2-8 you might start getting some strange texts. Of course, the rampant pill addiction goes without saying and I’m also hated by the entire state of Wisconsin but that’s because of an incident involving a dairy cow, an angry badger, a bottle of nitroglycerine, a shaved werewolf, a ruined police cruiser, a missing platoon from the National Guard and nine of the Milwaukee Bucks along with two assistant coaches and a keg filled with Southern Comfort. I can’t say anymore thanks to the court order, but . . . wait, what the fuck was I talking about?
Oh yeah, shamefully and predictably coming back like Brett Favre. Unlike Dr. Bert Fever, I am fully aware that this makes me look like a dickhead. I admit it. I’m a dick. I fucking suck for doing this. But I did it and we all must make our peace with that.
I originally planned to do something completely new, and for a couple of different reasons. I figured I’d start my own shitty blog, maybe even post anonymously just for shits and giggles. I didn’t know what the fuck I was going to do exactly but I had it in my head that it would be different. To give you an idea of how long I’ve known I was going to do this I started laying the groundwork back in, like, late May, only a few weeks after I burned this fucker to the ground. I even signed up for an account at Pride of Detroit, took the name My Blue Heaven and planned on posting there until I started a new blog of the same name. That lasted a couple of weeks and then all the Lions started getting arrested for everything from impersonating Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit to pistol whipping hookers to cannibalism. Predictably, the Lions blogosphere went stupid and I realized that I’d rather be forced to dine upon my own genitals after they were eaten by a syphilitic pig with dulled teeth and then shit out onto a dinner plate then to hang around and have endless debates on whether or not the Lions should cut the water boy who was caught jacking off in a utility closet. It made me realize that the whole reason I started doing this was as an antidote to that sort of inane hillbilly gibberish and so I haven’t been back in a while. This is not an assault on all you fine readers who do frequent Pride of Detroit. It’s a fine website, filled with useful information and fine news updates. I just didn’t want to get sucked into a vortex of white noise, in which people bitched about things just because there was nothing else to talk about. Shit, I’ll probably still comment once in a while but let’s face it, mostly I just want to make jokes and I’m pretty sure Sean doesn’t like me much anyway.
So . . . anyway, I changed gears a little bit. I changed my Twitter name to “Neil, Couer de Lion” with the aim of eventually starting a blog of the same name, minus the Neil part anyway. This was my plan up until a couple of weeks ago. Why that? Well, like I said, I had a couple of different reasons. First, I felt like a dipshit for setting Armchair Linebacker on fire and then watching it burn and I felt like if I was going to do something new, I needed to respect the Viking Funeral that Raven and I gave it. It would have felt disrespectful to go back on all of that – especially since Armchair Linebacker was from the beginning Raven’s baby – and to feebly try to leech off of whatever magic we had made before, sifting through the ashes for the bones of the dead like some sort of ghoul. It just didn’t feel right to do that all on my own.
Second, like I said, it felt like one story had ended and it only felt right for me to open a new book if I was going to start telling a new story. It just made sense to me. It felt right, decent, the honest thing to do.
But then I sat down and I wrote the intro to Raven’s Armchair Linebacker Football Preview e-book (out soon. Buy it or I will hunt you down and will eat your soul and I can totally do that because I am a fully trained and licensed soul-eater. I took the tests at the local community college and everything.) and while I was writing it, I went from referring to what Armchair Linebacker was to talking about what Armchair Linebacker is. I thought to myself hmmm, that probably means something. At the time, I concluded that it meant that the spirit of Armchair Linebacker would live on through Raven and through me even if the body had been decapitated and set on fire. But in retrospect, I realize that it meant that it was still alive because the fire was still alive inside of me and I wasn’t fucking done yet.
Still, I didn’t act on it because, well, refer to the whole sifting through ashes I don’t want to be a ghoul gibberish I went on about earlier. But then a funny thing happened – Raven decided that he wasn’t done either and he posted something new on the site, reactivated it and suddenly I didn’t have any good reason not to come back. This was his baby and if he was down for keeping it going, well shit, that was good enough for me. And now that I’ve thought about it more, there’s no way I could have done it without doing it right here. This is my home. This is Armchair Linebacker. This is a community of wild souls, of spirit warriors too weird to live anywhere else. This is a website made of fire and insanity, and its walls have been specially engineered to handle the heat of my soul. I can burn here, like a goddamn fire angel, I can burn. I can explode like a supernova and this place can handle it because it knows me and I know it. This is home, this is where the fire spirits play, and goddammit, this is where I will play.
Of course, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to have to do it my way so I don’t just get burned out again two months from now and start hating it. First of all, I’m only planning on writing, like, twice a week. I’ll do a pregame and a postgame and that’s about it. And the postgame shit might not even go up some weeks until Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m going to be lazy as hell with this thing because it’s the only way I’ll be able to keep it in perspective and not get eaten alive by my own perfectionism. Sometimes, I might write more, sometimes I might even write less. I don’t know. And that’s the way I want to keep it. I don’t know. All I know is that I want to keep doing this. I want to write about the Lions because I fucking have to. If I don’t, I get this weird sort of anxious feeling. Besides, I am too much of a raging egotist. I can’t stand the idea of not being the one to try to tell the story. I can’t stand the idea that there are others out there doing it who aren’t me. Sure, they do a good job and I like them and we get along great, but I can’t handle the idea that my voice won’t be heard anymore. I can’t handle the idea that this strange community of fans will go on without me saying “Hey, here’s the deal . . .” I can’t handle the idea that the last several years of rambling screeds and wild gibberish will count for nothing. I can’t handle the idea that everything I’ve already done, that the totality of the soul of my fandom that I have poured out and tried to shape like some insane wizard will mean nothing because I didn’t have the fucking balls to finish it.
Like I said, this shit will be lazy as hell and probably not as regular as you might like but that’s just the way it is. I’m not going to be writing about anything other than the Lions here. I’ll leave the broader NFL stuff to Raven. I just want my little corner of the world back. I’m not going to come anywhere close to the one new piece every day that I insanely did a couple of years ago. Hell, I probably won’t even match the output of last season, when I was running on fumes and my own stubborn will. But I will tell the story. I will reach into the heart of Lions fandom and I will smear that blood all over the goddamn place. I will touch our collective soul and I will do my best to translate the music that lives in there. I will stand up and I will sing the song of Lions fandom for the world and I will tell them all what it means, what it feels like, to be a Lions fan. And I will do this because I don’t have a choice. I will do this because I am a Lions fan by birth, a Lions fan by some twisted quirk of fate, and I am a Lions fan until the day I die. I will live in the madness because that is my role. Fuck, I am coming dangerously close to sounding like Batman gibbering about being the hero Gotham needs and so I’ll just stop this nonsense before I get too out of hand. I know, I know, too fucking late. The last thing I’ll say is this: I thought I was burned out, but I am made of stardust and stars are made of fire and I am a fire spirit and fire spirits never burn out. They just get hotter and hotter until one day they shine for the whole world to see and so I will sit in this house of fire and I will burn, and I will shine as a beacon of Lions fandom. Always.
And so here I am. Always. I’m back, motherfuckers.