ESCANABA - You get used to it, but it never gets any easier.
Lions fans, like myself, must be masochists because we keep coming back for more. Amazingly, we keep investing emotionally into this team and enduring heartbreaking loss, after boneheaded coaching call, after injury.
After the 0-16 debacle of 2008, Detroit had nowhere to go but up, and with some house-cleaning moves that washed away the stench of Matt Millen and Rod Marinelli, things were looking up.
Martin Mayhew came in and made a series of solid moves, resulting in 40 percent roster turnover for the start of the 2009 season. He wanted to remove all the bad seeds from the season that shall not be named and he succeeded in doing so.
He then drafted Mathew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Many Lions fans including myself initally soured at the pick. Quarterback was certainly one of our needs but after going 0-16, it fell somewhere between the defensive line and the secondary.
Stafford proved himself and won over the hearts of the Lions fanbase in a game against Cleveland last year, when after separating his shoulder, he pulled himself off the bench and threw the game-winning touchdown with no time left on the clock. It was Brett Favre-esque; it captivated us.
Little did we know, this would only be the first of multiple shoulder injuries.
The buzz around the start of the 2010 season for Detroit was unlike anything seen in the last ten years. We finally had a franchise quarterback. We drafted who we believed to be the top defensive player in the draft in Ndamukong Suh (and it looks like we were right) and we got some great free agents in Nate Burleson and Kyle Vandenbosch. There were positive signs everywhere going into the first game against Chicago.
Those positive signs lasted until just before halftime. With the Lions leading in the game, Julius Peppers came in and did his thing on Stafford's shoulder.
Snap. There went the Lions season in a nutshell.
Sure, the refs played an unfortunate hand in that loss, but if Stafford remained in the game it wouldn't have come to that. The Lions would be 1-0, the road losing streak would have ended right then and there, and everything would be cakes and pies.
Instead Detroit went on to drop close games against Philadelphia, Minnesota and Green Bay, starting out 0-4 before unleashing their frustrations on an equally-pathetic St. Louis Rams team at home.
Hope was renewed after the bye week, when Stafford returned to face Washington at home. He looked every bit the No. 1 draft pick, leading Detroit to victory.
The hoopla got into full swing the following week against the New York Jets - a team with the talent and swagger to call themselves a Superbowl contender.
The Lions swatted away their confidence. The defense played unbelivably, Stafford played like a champ, and the Lions led by 10 points with just more than 10 minutes left to go.
And then, snap, crackle, pop went Stafford's shoulder again and that's all folks.
We're used to it now. We've come to expect it.
The football Gods have a scapegoat and it is the Detroit Lions.
It is some kind of irony that the Lions finally found their elusive needle in a haystack, the homegrown, drafted quarterback, ah but there's a catch: He's made of glass. It's like some kind of Greek mythological test handed down from Mt. Olympus.
The Lions are 2-6 at the halfway point. They could have been a lot better. At least with Stafford in, they had a real chance to win every remaining game. What chance do they have now? What intrigue is there?
Take Sunday for example when the Lions, losers of 24 straight on the road meet the 0-8 Buffalo Bills?
Can you say for certain that this is a win for Detroit when their star quarterback is in a cast?
To lose to Buffalo ensures that Detroit will hold the worst road losing record in NFL history and the second worst road losing record in NFL history. Ouch.
Well, there's always next year I suppose.