Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Detroit Lions and "next year"

I totally agree with a local columnist's recent take on Detroit Lions fans. One Pat Caputo suggested the Honolulu blue and silver faithful have fallen prey to the "Stockholm Syndrome". The theory goes that sometimes when a person is abused long enough by the same tormentor, they actually begin to like it. It is their place in life, so why not accept it and even fall in love with the one dishing out the punishment? Sounds weird -- right?

But as Caputo noted, such would seem to be the case with Lions fans. They've been abused for decades, but there's no other place they'd rather be than bent over and taking another flogging with the promise that tomorrow will be better. Thing is, a rosy tomorrow never seems to come for the Lions.

Well over a half century of futility would seem to be conclusive evidence. The Lions remain the only non-expansion NFL team to have never even made it to a Super Bowl -- let alone won it. Since Super Bowls started -- fifty years ago -- the Detroit Lions have won a grand total of one -- count it -- ONE playoff game. They were predictably blown out the following week. This was back in 1992. A guy named Clinton was just getting set to move into the White House. Since then -- nada.

Only hope. The Lions have always been masters at selling the elusive "hope" to their suckers. Either that or, as Caputo put it, the masses just don't know any better any more. They have become accustomed to the floggings -- and like it. How else to explain what would be considered delusional behavior by "normal" people? Sure, they'll complain their team got "jobbed" here and there, but in the end the Lions have never risen above the mediocre level since a guy named Eisenhower was President. Yet incredibly, their Stockholmers keep coming back for more abuse. Higher ticket prices? No problem. They'll be standing in line to shell out the dough. Next year will be THE year. Or for sure the one after that. What's a few more beatings to endure as long as the pot of gold at the end of the historically sadistic rainbow will be mine someday soon, goes their reasoning.

Any sane person would know better. Get me the hell out of this house of horrors, they would likely scream. I can't take the pain and punishment any more. But Lions fans have long since proven themselves to be anything but rational human beings.

After a mirage 11-5 season in 2014, where the Lions had a patsy schedule and caught every break imaginable to make the playoffs -- they thudded back to familiar territory in 2015. They lost to good teams when it mattered, defeated bad ones when it didn't anymore, and wound up 7-9. Just another typical year.

No word yet on whether the owning Ford family will retain head coach Jim Caldwell. Maybe they'll leave it up to their next General Manager. No word yet on the results of their "exhaustive search" to fill that position either. But that's the Ford way. Wait until all the other teams have filled their needs with qualified people, then finally limp in and hire whoever's left. This is exactly how one Jim Caldwell got the head coaching job. He was the last one on the board. Everybody else had passed on him -- so the Lions, in their usual infinite wisdom -- considered him their next "savior". Right.

Thing is, if Caldwell manages to hang onto his job, even HE'S likely smart enough to realize the 2016 season offers yet another chance for the "hope-a-dope" scenario to play out once again. Now that the Lions have put themselves in purgatory again -- a 7-9 record is just good enough to be not terrible, but also knocked them out of the top ten in the draft. All the "immediate impact" players will be gone before the Lions get to choose.

Yet consider the Lions 2016 schedule.

Sure, they have their mandatory home and away games against division rivals Green Bay, Minnesota, and Chicago. That leaves ten more.

At home, the Lions get ---

Philly. They were terrible and fired their head coach Chip Kelly.
The Skins. Yep, they're in the playoffs, but somebody had to win the otherwise terrible NFC East. Few would consider them a formidable opponent.
Jacksonville. The Jags are the Jags. 'Nuff said.
Tennessee. See bottom feeders.
St. Louis. They don't even know where they're going to PLAY next year. Maybe still in golden arch land. Maybe in LA. At any rate, they're another non-playoff team.

On the road, the Lions will face ---

Dallas. Despite all the usual pomp and circus atmosphere, Da Boys appear to be in free fall. Their 4-12 record was the worst in the entire NFC.
NY Giants. Long time head coach Tom Coughlin recently resigned. And at 6-10, the Giants weren't any good anyway. Eli's coming. Eli's going. Star receiver Odell Beckham has begun to show thug qualities, Jason Pierre-Paul is still playing with one hand after blowing off a finger or two fooling around with fireworks, and good luck to the next head coach trying to sort this mess out.
Houston. Yep, they're in the playoffs as well but, like the above mentioned Redskins, somebody had to win the pitiful AFC south division.
Indianapolis. Even worse in the same division. The Colts have become a train wreck. The once highly hyped Andrew Luck has shown he's not "all that" and the once considered gone Chuck Pagano just got a contract extension from owner Jim Irsay. Hard to say who's more clueless.
New Orleans. Is Sean Payton still there? Drew Brees is getting up in geezer land, the Saints defense gave up the most points in the entire NFL, and these guys are going nowhere in the near future.

Add it all up and what do you have? Another patsy schedule for the Detroit Lions in 2016. With a break here and there, they might go 11-5 again. Jim Caldwell will be a GENIUS. The Ford family and whatever toady they hire as their next GM will likely give him a contract extension.

The Motown lunatics will start beating the Super Bowl drums for the 2017 season. Here we come -- again.

Um, excuse me, but haven't we heard this before somewhere? And the last time it worked out was -- well -- it never has.

But in the magical, if deluded, kingdom of Lions fandom, there is always hope. The team is in good hands with Martha, her equally blue-blooded girls, and the family accountant running an NFL franchise. So sayeth the koolaiders and some of the Pollyannish local media that keeps leading them by the nose -- and wallets -- as well.

Suckers. You'd think they'd learn after enough beatings that willingly coming back for more abuse -- and paying big bucks for the "privilege" of even more pain -- does not constitute what is normally considered rational behavior.

Regardless, it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round. Good or bad, it is what it is.

Even Lions fans. Yet to quote the legendary Mr. T. --

I pity the fools.

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