I have been reading the posts on Pride of Detroit and some other Lions fan sites with some interest. The reactions to the Lions huge blowout win against the Chiefs and the fast start to the season have created some interesting commentary.
Now that we appear poised to win more games than a Lions fan has ever had a right to expect, we are quickly reaching a watershed moment for Lions fans. We will have to learn how to deal with winning in a appropriate and sensible way. It is entirely possible to go overboard, both in enthusiasm, and in trying to play it down.
One great example was an event I witnessed when leaving Ford Field after the Lions trashed the Chiefs. The fans were pumped. The mood was ecstatic. As our little group of Lions fans were walking through Grand Circus Park on the way back to the tailgate we saw two guys dive into the fountain there. While I understand the enthusiasm, that is just nuts. I mean, bums urinate in that fountain, don't be stupid.
On one hand you have the fans that are in full blown supercharged slappy mode. These folks are living the greatest Lions fantasy of their life. It is like all of those really good dreams are coming true. No, not THOSE dreams! The ones about the Lions winning! Shame on you!
I have distinct memories from over 40 years of Lions football, and in all that time I have never seen a Lions team quite like this one. This team has a desire to win that was profoundly absent in any other Lions team I can remember. They are hungry, mean and willing to go for the kill. It is easy to go overboard.
On the other hand, you have the people who are so entrenched in fear from past Lions letdowns, that they just cannot quite learn to love this team yet. For them this is just another trap waiting to spring on them and crush their hopes. They have seen it too many times and the Lions aren't going to fool them again!
There are some rules in sports that guide the players on how to approach the game, so that they can be better players. I think a few of them can apply to the fans as well.
Don't get too high, or too low.
Try to keep both winning and losing in perspective and stay focused on what is real. It has been so long since we have won it is easy to lose sight of this one. The Lions WILL lose some games this season. It is just a matter of when. Enjoy the wins and let them warm your heart, and don't let the losses make you too upset.
When you get to the end zone, act like you have been there before.
One of the things I really hate about some of the fans of winning teams is how arrogant they can become. The Lions fans should never lose the humility and perspective gained from the down years. We should enjoy our good times, but stay grounded. The last thing we need is to end up like Cowboys or Bears fans. Everybody hates those guys.
It's only two games, It is a long season.
We need to always keep in mind that the goal is not to win the first two games. We have not really succeeded until we are hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. In the NFL, that is the only measure of success that does not have any qualifiers to it. So until we win it all, we need to keep our perspective. Once we do win it all, we can enjoy that for one off-season. Then we have to prove it all over again.
We need to play as a team
We will see other Lions fans go overboard at times, in both a positive and negative way. When that happens we have to be good to our fellow fans because we are all on the same team here. Don't berate them or insult them. Just be a good teammate and bring them back to the ground gently.
Know how to play your position
We play a role in the success of the Lions as fans. When we are at the game we need to know how to be the 12th man. When the Lions are on offense stay quiet so they call play changes at the line easily. When the Lions are on defense make LOTS of noise so that you disrupt the ability of the other team to change their plays at the line.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going
Always keep in mind that the players feed off the energy of the fans. It is when the team is struggling, that they need the help of the fans the most. Being a fair weather fan is one of the worst things you can do. Don't boo the team unless they really earn it, and one bad play, or even a bad game, does not qualify. Help keep the mood positive, but realistic, going forward.
Take it one game at a time
When the Lions win enjoy it for a couple days then move on. When the Lions lose, always remember that we have another chance to win next week.
We need to build an environment that breeds success
The fans need to realize that success is measure against expectations. If your expectations are unrealistic, then you are setting yourself, and the team, up for failure. This is one of the most critical things we need to do as fans. When the expectations of the fans get too high, we create an environment that causes coaches to lose their jobs and players to get traded. That is not always a good thing.
Don't get me wrong on this. I am not saying we should purposely keep our expectations low in order to be sure the team will meet them. I am saying that we should expect exactly what the team should be capable of producing. By keeping our expectations realitic, we set them at a place that continues our progress toward a championship instead of derailing it by setting expectations too high, too soon.
When you get your opportunity, make it count!
OK, it's your turn to add to your sayings that leave a lesson for other Lions fans about how to appropriately approach the season and how the Lions perform.