Yesterday afternoon, there came a momentous occasion, one that had some people dropping to their knees in prayer and others uncorking cases of champagne. I’m surprised riots didn’t break out replete with overturned police cars, bonfires and widespread looting.
That’s because the heavens parted and a miracle occurred.
News Flash: the losing-est team in football – no, in all the annals of sports history – finally won a game.
That’s right, folks, the Detroit Lions broke their two year and 19-game losing streak, soundly trouncing the Washington Redskins 19-14.
Okay, perhaps I exaggerate the “trouncing.” Five points is what I call just squeaking by. I’m only echoing the news reports from the local media outlets of the last 12 hours.
I must admit, I am no sports fanatic. It could be the lack of athletic ability. I was the perennial “last place” runner in elementary school. I had barely enough stamina to walk much less throw anything. It was only with maturity did I give sports a try, when I was part of a losing-est softball team in St. Paul. (The after parties were to die for.)
I’m also a Michigan transplant, having grown up in Colorado where I cheered for Broncos. (Go, John Elway.) I lived in the Twin Cities for over a decade, and married a man who was born and bred to love Purple People Eaters (the Vikes). He recalls fondly sitting outside in the old Met Stadium (now home to the Mall of America) and freezing his patootie off in the dead of winter. That’s when football was football, my friends. We are ex-pats living in Motown, two of the growing multitude showing up at Lions games in complete Viking regalia to cheer on the away team when they come to town.
Perhaps it’s my previous incarnations in other cities, but I’ve lived here 23 years and I still can’t get behind the Lions. About 15 years ago, I wondered aloud why William Clay Ford was still in the football business. (Tax write off?) However, watching the surrounding Lions show is enormously entertaining. Besides, they've been down so long, it looks like up to them.
For one thing, the Detroit football phenomenon makes for terrific studies. I might not watch all of the games (mainly because many games are blacked out), but I make it a point to listen to the armchair analysis afterward. It’s amazing the faith the locals have in this team. Then there are the coaches. From Wayne Fontes’ weekly crying to Matt Millen trying to silence his critical fans, it’s been compelling. New players are brought in and pinned with badges of renewed hope. They are confident and positive.
Heck, every pre-season is filled with hope. Give them a win or two, and they’re heading for the Super Bowl, no lie! Then the tragedy of one loss, then another, and another settles in and newscasters and players alike bemoan the failure of another chance at the prize. It's not long before this year is written off to concentrate on next year.
Yesterday’s win was a celebratory breath of fresh air. Man on the street interviews featured glowing reports from giddy fans. The sigh of relief was almost as loud as the day after GM was bailed out.
A 19-game losing streak would likely decimate another team in another town. But this is DETROIT, remember? We’re a town, a region and a state full of knuckleheads who despite overwhelming trials get up and get back on the track to try again.
I guess that’s one reason to respect the Lions.