ME: Hello. My name is Shad. And I am a Lions fan.
LIONS FAN THERAPY GROUP: Hello, Shad.
My Lions fan therapy group believes that getting your thoughts down on paper can really help with the acceptance and moving-on phase of your addiction. So here goes nothing as I relive the Lions-Texans Thanksgiving Day game.
My Lions lose a lot, but Thursday was one of those 10th circle of Hell type of losses saved only for Lions fans. It’s fun when they happen on Thanksgiving so the whole world can see what it’s like. A vintage Lions’ loss starts out slow. Maybe a Lions punt clearly hits a Texans player in the first half and after seeing the review the announcer says something like, “Well, this is going to be the Lions ball at midfield.” I said to myself, “How adorable, Phil Simms, you don’t watch a lot of Lions games do you?” Seconds later an official declares Texans ball. “Well at least the football gods owe us one,” thinks absolutely no Lions fan, because they know something more gut-wrenching is probably right around the corner. Despite that bit of bad luck, the Lions build a nice 10-point second-half lead over a 9-1 team, then make the mistake of tackling a player for a three-yard gain. Only in Lion Land, three-yard gains are cleverly disguised as 81-yard touchdown runs. The Lions coach reacts illegally to the blatant missed call by throwing his challenge flag. To which I’m sure, the proper reaction will be “Whoa, calm down big guy. We’re already challenging it. The No. 1 goal is to get the call right for the integrity of the game. So, stay cool. We’ll get it right.” But the ref seems to be saying something different. It looks like a 15-yard penalty. Gee that’s harsh. Oh and one more tiny thing, also he’s not going to review it anymore. Say what now? You’re not going to review it? Why, out of spite? No it’s the actual rule. Really, that doesn’t seem logical. Oh it’s not. In fact the rule will probably be changed before the playoffs this year, so no “real” games are affected, this is just a Lions game. Oh I get it, you mean kinda like the Calvin Johnson TD catch in Chicago a few years ago? Precisely. In fact, get this. On the disputed play Thursday, the Texans’ coach could have thrown his red flag to prevent a challenge, knowing that the touchdown was bogus. You don’t say. Wow, that really is a loophole-filled horrible rule.
OK, I may never be able to shake off that ruling, but the Lions, to their credit, were able to. Rebuilding a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. A lead I know isn’t going to last, but maybe you watching the Lions for the first time since last Thanksgiving believe it will. Slowly but surely, the lead evaporates. Maybe Andre Johnson is left uncovered on a fourth-down play. Can I get a line-up-in-the-neutral-zone on an incomplete pass on third and five? Yes indeed. And before you know it, we’re meeting at midfield for the overtime coin toss. That’s when I had this conversation with the football gods:
ME: OK, football gods, I’ll make you a deal. We’re not going to win this game, right?
GODS: Yes, that is correct.
ME: OK, then let’s just have the Texans win the toss and score a touchdown right away like Tebow against the Steelers in the playoffs last year. Quick and as painless as possible.
GODS: Oh Shad, you know better than that. That would just be a devastating loss. This one’s going to be “Lions” devastating.
ME: What does that mean? Let me guess. The Lions will win the toss, march into field goal range, only to have their fumble-happy tight end fumble it?
GODS: That sounds like a good start, yes.
ME: Then the Texans move down the field easily and kick a game-winning field goal? Game over.
GODS: Ha. Ha. Ha. That’s cute. No it’s much worse. The Texans do march down the field. You will be resigned to the fact that the Lions will lose. You will be so frustrated that you make the screen door to your backyard go off the hinges, because you slammed it too hard when letting the dog out (This actually happened). But what’s this? A glimmer of hope. The Texans miss their field goal. Your spirits are raised.
ME: Oh great, then what happens? Let’s see. We probably have good field position, Matthew Stafford’s been fantastic all day. I’ll bet he completes an amazing pass on third-and-long to put us in field goal position. And then … No, don’t tell me.
GODS: Yes, you’re almost there.
ME: Jason Hanson misses a field goal? But he never misses. Did he hook it left, or leave it out to the right?
GODS: A clean miss would be much too easy to accept. Be creative.
ME: He hits the upright doesn’t he?
GODS: Yep. Nailed it. Ha double meaning, you nailed it and he nailed it.
ME: Did we at least kick it on fourth down after gaining every possible yard because football is a game of inches and an extra foot could mean the difference between hitting the goalpost and winning the game?
GODS: Nope. You kicked it on third down.
ME: Please tell me that’s it. The Texans go down and get a field goal to win it.
GODS: Yep, that’s what happened. We considered having the Lions intercept a pass and return it for touchdown only to have it negated by another neutral-zone infraction, but since it is the holiday, we played nice.
ME: Well, thanks for taking time out to talk to me I guess, what are you going to do now?
GODS: We still have a busy day for the Ryan family. We’re going to televise Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan no less than 15 times on the sideline, as RGIII scores a ton of points. And then Rex and the Jets, I mean can you believe they are still starting Mark Sanchez? We haven’t decided yet, but I’m thinking maybe something creative like the Patriots score 35 points in the second quarter or something. Anyway, enjoy the rest of your Turkey Day. Sorry about the whole Lions thing, but you know how it is.
ME: Yep. Keep up the dastardly work.
Wow! That does actually feel a lot better. Thanks for allowing me to vent. And the truth is, the rest of my day wasn’t even ruined. I fixed the screen door. My wife made the tastiest turkey I’ve ever had. I saw a great movie: Silver Linings Playbook. And my wife and I even hung out with every teen in the Coachella Valley at the mall from midnight to 2 a.m Black Friday style. Can you say $200 sheets for $40 at Macy’s? Boom, baby! Glad the rest of you got a little taste of what it must be like to be a Lions fan. I know your team has devastating losses every now and then, but your team’s losses are never “Lions” devastating. And that’s something for which you can always be thankful.