The Detroit Lions

It’s a 11:30 PM Mountain Time, and here I am awake thinking about the damn Detroit Lions. It’s time I wrote a fucking post about this shit franchise designed to torture any and all red-blooded males born and raised in the Motor City.

A lot of what I’m about to say has been percolating in my brain for years.

I’m gonna let it all rip.

I can tell you exactly why the Lions suck: the Fords. Yeah, sure, Henry Ford was great. And some of his descendents have been exceedingly competent. But born into such generational wealth, I can guess most Fords are probably complacent as hell. They don’t care about winning it all. It’s about maintaining the money and legacy.

And they know, in their heart of hearts, that one or two playoff births a decade is enough to keep us sad saps spending money on the Detroit Lions. Somewhere in all this, you can make an analogy to Stockholm syndrome. Your captor, in this case the Lions, tortures the fuck out of you. But just that makes those moments when they reward you with a big win that much sweeter. You fall deeper in love than you would’ve if they’d just been winning all along. It feels, somehow, more special.

They’ve psychology poisoned us. We’re damaged. We need treatment.

I have this weird theory that the Lions are emblematic of Detroit, the region, and way more than any other local sports team. It makes sense when you think about it: one of the Big 3 essentially owns the Lions, and the Big 3 still have an outsized influence on Detroit.

The Pistons are owned by some weird guy that was raised in Michigan but made his money in California. The Wings and Tigers are owned by Mike Ilitch, the pizza mogul. And while it’s true that great pizza is part of Detroit culture, at the end of the day it’s fucking pizza. You can’t build a real economy out of cheap ass pepperoni pizza.

When was the last time the Big 3 was truly badass? The 1950s, the last time the Lions were truly badass. Go figure, right? When did the Lions go 0-16? 2008, the same year we were talking about whether or not the country should allow the US auto industry to go bankrupt. Again, go fucking figure.

Both recovered after, playing nice and trying hard long enough to make the rest of the country believe. But the Lions are proving yet again that Detroit will never get over the hump. Yeah, the Lions will probably put together a string of wins at some point this year to avoid complete embarrassment. But they aren’t going anywhere important anytime soon, just like the negotiations with the UAW.

The rewards ring hollow.

The Big 3 toys with Detroit the same way the Lions do. Look at all the Big 3 factories scattered all over this damn world. They could put a few more back in Detroit and bring real growth back to the region. But no, they’ll never do that. They have their economic excuses, conveniently keeping only enough jobs and money in Detroit and its suburbs to sort of support the existing population, probably because they’re scared of the PR involved with completely abandoning the Motor City.

We know the Big 3 fucked Saginaw, Flint, and Pontiac. Only Detroit’s size and national recognition saves it from their anti-labor wrath.

How many commercials of GM cars driving in New York City do we have to see before we realize none of those companies give a flying fuck about Detroit? Think about it. Why is the Chrysler Building in NYC? This goes way back.

Of course we’ve got more excuses for that, just like we’ve got more excuses for the Lions.

Sure, at the moment, Detroit itself is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. Downtown and Midtown Detroit are storming to a solid 8-8 – maybe 9-7 – season right now. Belle Isle is shaping itself up, finally giving Detroiters a true mediocre product to brag about.

But what happens when Chrysler or Ford takes a dump? You can kiss that momentum goodbye. Belle Isle will be 6’4″ Megatron Calvin Johnson fumbling at the 1 yard line on Monday Night Football right at the end of the game, with victory only inches away. Because that’s what Detroit does. Gets your hopes up only to dash you against the rocks.

It’s your fault for believing. We should know better by now.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m being too extreme. I’m full of shit. None of this true.

Well, you’ll be the one drinking yourself into a stupor next time the bad news hits, like it always does. And Boston, New York, Miami, LA, Chicago, etc. – they’ll all be kicking Detroit ass like always.

That’s just the way the world works.


6 thoughts on “The Detroit Lions

  1. You make some good points here, George. I have a feeling that Detroit will succeed in spite of the entitled few. If the leaders won’t lead, the followers will have to show the way.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  2. The parallels are strong, for sure.

    I’m confident that Detroit will never have strong neighborhoods, serviceable mass transit, or a good football team in my lifetime. At least we still have cheap real estate – BOOM!

    Go Flint Firebirds!

  3. I think, for example, that the greater downtown area of Detroit will never be as bad as it was a decade ago. A corner has been turned there. But… the city as a whole will remain deeply troubled for quite some time.

  4. Ha. I do actually think a few Detroit neighborhoods are looking good long term. Even a bad team can have a Pro Bowler or 2.

    Still, I stand by my article, of course.

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