After receiving a water bottle shower from Larry Foote, Jim Schwartz spoke to his team and jokingly asked why everyone was so excited over a game the Lions expected to win. The players laughed, and Schwartz went on to say how well both teams played. He then told the players that after their prayer, go back out on the field and celebrate with the fans.
FOX showed a clip of the players walking around the wall and giving high fives to fans. Gosder Cherilus, who just experienced his first win in the NFL, shook hands with fans and briefly spoke with each of them. It was a great moment and one that shows you just how much this team means to its fans and the city of Detroit.
With the economy in Detroit being so bad and in general these being some tough times, there has been quite a bit of talk in the media about how sports teams can uplift people in the area. Michigan State got the most publicity for its run to the Final Four in Ford Field, as they were "playing for the state." While it was absolutely an amazing story, I think the media blew their effect on the state out of proportion. The Red Wings provided another moment for the city of Detroit to rally around by making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Of course, we all know how that turned out, but it still was an exciting couple of months. And finally, the Tigers are doing their best to put together a playoff run that would really energize Detroit, but they are in a fight to win the AL Central with one week to go in the regular season.
The Lions haven't made it to the Super Bowl and aren't on the verge of making the playoffs (not yet, anyway), but the effect just one win will have on Lions fans and the people of Detroit is going to be an extremely positive one. For basically this entire decade the Lions have been the butt of many jokes due to their losing ways. Even when we thought 2007 was finally the year for a magical run, the Lions folded midway through the season and reverted back to their old ways. The jokes went to a new level last season when the Lions went 0-16. Blackouts piled up, and based on a combination of the Lions' play and their luck in the first two weeks, it seemed like they were starting to go down a similar path. I'm not saying that they were headed for another winless season, but had Detroit lost today, it could have been a long wait for that first victory.
Instead the Lions got to celebrate their first win since late 2007, and what better way to do it than with the fans. Hopefully the effect of just one win will not only lift people's spirits, but also put people in the seats at Detroit's next home game in a couple weeks. It is only natural to expect more blackouts, but it's amazing what winning does to people. For the fans this is a great relief and a reason to celebrate, and for the players this could very well be the game we all look back to as the turning point for this franchise. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but a win at Chicago next week would put the Lions back at .500. Of course, that won't be an easy task, but one thing is for certain: The Lions will be riding a wave of momentum into that game next Sunday.