After attending the Detroit Lions’ first preseason game, that saw them play host to the New York Jets, I realized the game meant more than just a 26-17 victory from the home team.
I realized that, even after a disappointing 4-12 finish, a football team can bounce back the next season, in their first preseason game, and come out with the same momentum as a Super Bowl champion.
I realized that the players and the coaches on this years Lions roster are playing for more than just a paycheck, the hype, the publicity, or the individual records; they’re playing for their city. A city that officially filed for bankruptcy just a month ago, so if you talk to a local resident, they’ll tell you that there is not much to look forward to in Detroit.
Other than their sports teams.
Because during that preseason game, I witnessed hope.
Even on a day where the AL Central division-leading Detroit Tigers were taking the field against the New York Yankees, riding a 12-game winning streak, I realized that fans still gathered together at Ford Field, what seemed to be a sold out arena, to watch their Lions play in a preseason game. May I mention that this is the same fans who, 5 years ago, witnessed television blackouts during Lions games because no one wanted to watch them play.
But how can fans not be excited about the free agent acquisition of Reggie Bush for the Detroit Lions? He’s a running back who will compliment the explosive passing game of the Detroit Lions by running the ball effectively and helping a unit that finished 23rd in the league with 100.8 rush yards per game last season.
How can Detroit not be excited about first round draft pick Ziggy Ansah, who in the first five minutes of the preseason game intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass and returned it to the end zone for his first NFL touchdown?
In general, how can the Lions not be excited about Ansah teaming up with Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh and newly acquired defensive end, Jason Jones, in what seems to be the most ferocious defensive line in the NFL?
How can you not be excited about the fact that the best wide receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson, is the hardest working player on your team, and expects to have an even better season in 2013 than what he had last year? Let’s not forget Johnson’s 1,964 receiving yards in 2012 broke the NFL record for the most receiving yards in a single season. Johnson was only 36 yards away from becoming the first ever player with 2,000 receiving yards in one season.
So how can Detroit fans not be excited to watch the 2013 Lions take the field in 2013? Easy- just watch film on the team from the past 12 seasons.
Since the year 2001, Lions teams have a combined record of 53-139, which comes out to be a .381 winning percentage. In the span of 12 seasons, the Lions finished with a winning record and made the playoffs only once, both happening in 2011.
So I realized that, asking a Lions fan if they’re excited about this year’s team and the upcoming season is as pointless as asking a blind man for directions. Every upcoming season and roster for the past 12 years have been “exciting” for Lions fans. The only thing now that will make the fans from Detroit happy are wins. Plain and simple.
If the Detroit Lions don’t win, not much change will occur around the city since the fans have become so accustomed to their team losing over the past years.
But if the Detroit Lions do win, well, that’s when you will start to see life come back to this city.
Now I know it’s not right to predict what would happen to the city of Detroit if the Lions started to win on a continuous basis, especially with my one playoff experience as a fan of this team. But let’s be honest here, it is the uncertainties in life that keep us motivated each day to do better as people of this universe.
So who knows if the Lions success on the football field would correlate to the people of Detroit succeeding in the economy?
Who knows if the Lions would string together a deep playoff run as a team, could eventually help with how the residents in Detroit view one another, unifying as one, and maybe we will see a steady decline in the cities death total?
Who knows if the Lions ability to win games against playoff contenders will help the citizens of Detroit with overcoming their own battles, which is within themselves, and give them hope and help them understand that they can still make a difference in this world.
I know it may sound crazy to think that a football team can have so much power on a city, but when you’re in the position Detroit residents are in, any sign of positivity can be considered a motivation.
Besides, ever since the new millennium, Detroit fans don’t know what’s it like to have a legitimate Super Bowl contending football team.
So the hope, the excitement and the uncertainty is all there. Now it’s all up to the Detroit Lions to bring back that pride which once defined this city.
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