Do you pity the Lions? It's like asking, do you pity the sad clown?
I know the Detroit Lions have never really been fond of winning and have turned losing into an art form - either a dark comedy or a Shakespearean tragedy depending on the week and/or opponent. They've figured out a multitude of ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and over the last decade, if they haven't been terrible, the Lions have been heartbreaking. But no one can say they aren't at least creative.
I'm writing my Lions send off a couple weeks earlier than usual this year because make no mistake, when that Justin Tucker 61-yarder sailed through the uprights, that was all she wrote.
I don't know why this team still has fans, I honestly don't. I don't know why I take time out of my weekend to watch, I don't know why I care that Matthew Stafford has thrown 13 interceptions in his last seven games, or that Nick Fairley gets called for offsides at the worst possible moment in seemingly every game.
When a significant other disappoints you, stomps on your heart repeatedly and lets you down, you walk away. But the Lions? They don't want that relationship to end, so they tantalize you with the promise of gifts to come.
Don't go! They say. We have the best wide receiver in the NFL, on pace to break Jerry Rice's career record by the time he's done playing. Give us another chance! They plead. We have a quarterback who is the fastest to 10,000 yards in NFL history. And when they catch you looking at that shiny team across state lines (No, not the Green Bay Packers), they dangle that alleged 'best defensive line in the NFL' in front of you and say, look what we got over here.
But those are just promises they can't keep. The Lions have become a snake oil salesman.
You actually feel dirty, and stupid having been fooled by this organization yet again. What is wrong with me, you ask.
I've been a Detroit Lions fan for well over 20 years, that still makes me young by comparison to a lot of fans out there. There's actually life-long Detroit Lions fans. Can you imagine?
Sure, I've never known what success feels like for my team but my fellow sportswriter John Vrancic knows over half a century of the same. I vaguely remember the Lions playoff victory over Dallas in the early 90s. I was eight years old. I said, 'that's nice', and then I went and jumped in some puddles and rode my bike. That's it; that's all there is. One playoff win followed by a vast, expansive timeline of a clown repeatedly being whipped cream pied in the face.
They've defied even the football gods this time.
In the NFL, which is rigged for quick turnarounds, almost every team can accidentally have success from time to time.
This was the Lions time. The planets aligned. it was foretold in prophecy and passed down by divine decree.
"Let it be written," the lord of the gridiron said. "That in 2013, a behemoth in the North will be stricken with a broken collarbone and a swarm of mediocre quarterbacks shall befall them. A plague of banged-up ankle shall curse the city of wind and their gates will fly open to the thundering stampede of opposing running backs. And out of the ashes a black sheep will arise and conquer the lands, taking what has been deprived of them for so so long."
And the Lions said, eh, no thanks.
I don't know what the mood of the Detroit Lions locker room was like following Monday night's game but I like to think the sound of circus music was heard playing out of the speakers. In fact, that should be the Lions theme song.
The national anthem before every game is too good for this franchise. It inspires bravery, courage, sacrifice. Just let the calliope play instead.
Matthew Stafford: "Some of the stuff that happened to us was kind of self-inflicted" Circus music. (You know, do do dodododo do do do do.)
Jim Schwartz faking field goals and challenging non-reviewable calls. Circus music.
Marty Morhinweg taking the wind in overtime. Circus music; Bobby Ross going for two against Arizona. Circus music; Dan Orlovsky running out the back of the end-zone in a game the Lions lost by two points (in a season in which they went 0-16). Circus music. Darryl Rogers: "What's a guy gotta do to get fired around here?" Circus music. Matt Millen: enough said. Circus music.
Maybe we're just looking at it all wrong. We shouldn't be getting angry. We should embrace this identity and approach it with a sense of glee. Oh good, the Lions lost again, now I don't have to burden myself with celebrating.
Because honestly, if the Lions ever did, (let's just wildly dream for a moment here), play in a Super Bowl or win a playoff game in the next century, we'd probably all resemble junkies rocking in the fetal position, drunk with catatonic bliss, in a back alley somewhere. And the economy just can't take that.
So just smile. And when you see Mr. Rodgers jersey in the office, tip your hat and say, how do you do sir? Lovely weekend of football wasn't it? And call up your compatriots and excitedly exclaim, "Wow! Did you see how the Lions lost this week? Wasn't it awesome? I can't wait until their next defeat!"
You see, we're all mad here in Lions nation. Cue the music.