Fuck you, Rocky, you are the avatar of a doomed people.
I know, I know, the whole one game at a time thing is clichéd as hell and if there’s anything we hate here at ACLB it’s hoary old clichés, those miserable old whores. But really, what else can you say about this team at this point? I have spent the first month or so of the season playing a goddamn funeral dirge and screaming “bring out your dead!” so often that even I am completely sick of me and even before the game started I decided enough was enough and I wasn’t just going to spend all my time stroking my lyre (not a euphemism I swear) and moaning plaintiff odes to melancholy and death for the gods to hear. Fuck all that. It is unbecoming.
The thing is, is that I don’t consider myself an optimist nor a pessimist. Instead, I like to think of myself as an honest man, someone who is capable of being optimistic when the times, strange and terrible as they are, call for it, and pessimistic when those strange and terrible times become extra strange and terrible and start eating our souls with teeth made from infected AIDS needles. It’s hard to be honest with yourself, honest about any situation, without your own idiot hopes and dreams messing with the narrative one way or another. In fact, it’s inhuman, but goddammit, nobody ever accused me of being a normal human and so, well, here we are.
And where we are is the football equivalent of a support group, a room full of deranged addicts chanting one day at a time, one day at a time. Indeed. In my preview piece, after gibbering like Morrissey on heroin for over 2,000 words, I did the only thing I could think of and I literally begged for a win. And hey, guess what? I got one. We got one.
It is just one, but what the hell, we cannot afford to be complacent as a tribe. We must take what we can get and thank the gods for their mercy. I am not a man who can afford to dream big as a fan right now, and in the absence of any grand vision of heaven, I am left with two options – one, to bitch and moan, an option which I have up until now embraced like a goddamn whiny junkie, or two, to just settle down, not expect anything one way or the other and to just take this shit as it comes. I have mourned for a month now, wept over the grave of my dreams and beat my wife (just kidding, I don’t have a wife – I actually beat my neighbor’s wife. He lets me because he’s a pervert who gets off on such things. What’s weird is that he’s 85 years old and dying and she is at least in her mid-70’s and won’t stop crying about her broken hips and . . . no Neil, don’t do that, people will think you are strange . . .) but now the time has come where even my most indulgent and understanding friends will think me obnoxious if I don’t move on and so I’m opening door number two, behind which anything and everything is possible, both good and bad and what the hell, let’s just see what happens.
This was a weird game, a fun game, a miserable game, a beastly game and a frustrating game all rolled up into one. The Lions played like a pack of crazed dogs on defense, the Sheriff’s posse spent the whole game throwing flags at them and arresting them for crimes against humanity, Matthew Stafford spent most of the game lost in a morphine induced coma before someone drove an adrenaline needle into his heart and he channeled his inner Snake, and everything both good and bad about this Lions team presented itself at one point or another, causing a singularity which threatened to consume my soul at least half a dozen times before I escaped on the other side in some new universe that would have seemed strange if it wasn’t the same one I woke up in half a dozen times last year. And in the end, my heart just sort of floats through space in a rocket ship made of tinfoil and wishes and the oxygen is getting low but what the hell, it is still alive, I am still alive and so are my Detroit Lions. For this week anyway.
And I guess that’s all that matters. Winning covers up a lot of shit, as we know so well from last season’s schizophrenic fool’s march to paradise, and had the Lions lost this game in Overtime, I’d probably be here reciting scripture, you know the really weird, dark shit from Revelations with snakes and rivers of blood and all that wild shit which makes me think John the Revelator was probably an acid freak and was caught in the middle of a bad trip when his deadline came up and his editors bitched him out and made him write whatever weird shit he could wrap his addled mind around. But the Lions won and so all the annoying shit just feels sort of like a stale fart lingering in the other room and other people can deal with that foul nonsense because I’ve left that room and now I’m in a happy place where everyone is smiling and happy – at least until next week when that guy next to me will shit his pants or something and we’ll all be forced to flee for further sanctuary.
I’m sorry, this has gotten vaguely weird but then again so is this Lions season. There is no prevailing narrative, nothing to cling to, to expound upon in some greater search for truth. There is only today and today the Lions won and so, hey, I’m happy. Sure, why not?
I spent big chunks of the first half wondering if Matthew Stafford was being abused by Gun or whoever in the showers during the week, or if he was sweating out a paternity suit or something, but for the most part I was just happy – happier than I have been at any other point during this season – because the Lions were not only hitting Michael Vick on every single damn play – I’m not even exaggerating, it was astounding to watch, they even tackled him on a handoff – they were fucking crippling him. It was a beautiful thing, like something out of a football movie where some shitball team plays a group of prisoners or something and those prisoners show up and just start shanking people and murdering the quarterback while everyone watching cringes and the guards all stand on the sidelines with shotguns. (Note: I originally typed “shitguns” instead of “shotguns” which made me giggle like a little girl and also in all honesty is a way cooler and funnier visual.) If I were a decent human being I would say that I actually feared for Michael Vick’s health but I am not and so fuck him. That shit was like manna for my starving soul.
The second half, well . . . for big chunks of the second half I just stared vacantly off into space and questioned things like man’s inhumanity to man and the nature of god in a post-theistic society, and also whether or not I could be arrested for walking into the video store and pissing on every Rocky movie ever made before slapping the clerk and then openly sobbing, but then Snake Stafford showed up – I’m guessing someone ran down to the sideline and told him either it wasn’t his fault that Gun had “issues” or that the results of the paternity test came back negative – and the Lions did what they do every other goddamn game and somehow forced the game to overtime. I did almost reach through the screen like a fucking poltergeist and eat whoever the fuck was managing the clock for the Lions during the last minute of regulation and may have threatened to punch not just one baby but all the world’s babies when they were forced to settle for a field goal from the one fucking yard line, but that paints me in a bad light and so let’s say that those things never happened and move on. Deal? Deal.
And then in overtime, the Lions defensive line ate Michael Vick’s soul, pooped it out and then rubbed it in the face of all those degenerate Philly assholes and then the Lions kicked the game winning field goal while those animals all booed and probably beat their wives and children and then themselves, the entire stadium dissolving into one giant cesspool of self-loathing while Jim Schwartz and I both pumped our fists in unison. And with that, happy days are here again! At least for the next week. But what the hell, my name is Neil and I am an addict and I understand I must take these things one game at a time. It is all any of us can do and for now, that is good enough. It has to be.