I’m proud of you all.
Seriously, I’m proud of you. The Sweet 16 of the Detroit Lions Name Bracket tournament was the most entertaining round in the two-year history of the event. Ezekiel Ansah and Quandre Diggs were within 10 votes of each other for nearly the entire weekend, and in the end, you made the right choice. Ansah has been eliminated, meaning we will have a new champion this year (and subsequently, this hasn’t been a complete waste of time).
Now eight teams remain, and I couldn’t be happier with this field. Each one of these names deserve to be here, and you all made it possible.
Okay, compliments over. Time to get down to business. This round is going to be brutal and four names are going home. I honestly have no idea who will win any of these matchups. This is the best of the best, and you have the unenviable position of choosing the King among Kings. Good luck.
4. Quandre Diggs vs. 3 Jace Billingsley
Quandre Diggs is your giant-killer of the tournament. After going back-and-forth with Ezekiel Ansah all weekend, he finally pulled ahead Sunday for good. How did he do that? He had a little help from twitter user @chronwall:
Hey @qdiggs6. Lions fans have an annual "who has the coolest name" bracket. You're losing to Ziggy. It's not right. pic.twitter.com/EaLH2L8mhI— Derek (@chronwall) June 17, 2016
@qdiggs6 if you asked your UT fans to support the cause, you could upset the reigning champ. @PrideOfDetroit— Derek (@chronwall) June 17, 2016
Diggs saw those tweets and retweeted both. And eventually he caught wind of the original Pride Of Detroit tweet and retweeted that, as well. This was enough to rally the troops and get Diggs the win. To be fair, Ansah was also mentioned in the Pride Of Detroit tweet, so he had his opportunity to gather support. Some may call shenanigans on this contest, but this is exactly what the Name Bracket tournament is all about. Dirty tricks fueled by passion are absolutely welcome. Diggs played the system, and now he’s in the elite eight.
Jace Billingsley knows a little about playing the system as well. Support from his father via Twitter has aided his route to the elite eight. First, Mr. Jim Billingsley simply retweeted the tournament post. Then he provided the courtroom with additional evidence as to why his son deserved to prevail:
@PrideOfDetroit Jace Billingsley's middle name is Gable and he is from Winnemucca, NV. Some interesting names there.— Jim Billingsley (@billingsey32) May 29, 2016
But make no mistake here, dirty tricks aside, both of these names absolutely deserve to be here. But it is now up to you to decide whose route — dirty or otherwise — ends here.
1 Golden Tate vs. 2 Johnson Bademosi
With Ansah out of the way, last year’s runner-up Golden Tate has to be one of the favorites to win the tournament. Even though he’s been around the team for several years now, the wonder of his name has not really worn off. Sure, you’ve got Golden, which is a fantastic name to begin with, but somehow it fits perfectly with Tate. In this context, Tate sounds like some sort of precious artifact. For whatever reason ($$$$$$$$$$$), they’re making another Indiana Jones movie. I will not support this movie unless they name it "Indiana Jones and the Golden Tate."
I remember when Johnson Bademosi was first signed by the Lions back in March. As a writer/editor who had never heard of the guy, it was horrible. Each time I tried to remember his name, I was never sure if it was Bademosi Johnson or Johnson Bademosi. The name is just a sloppy word salad. That being said, there’s something beautiful about it. It’s unpredictable. It’s unique. It’s completely unapologetic for being itself. We should all strive to be as bold and self-confident as the name Johnson Bademosi. You’re a role model for us all, Mr. Johnson...uh...Mr. Bademosi...uh...let’s just call you JB.
1 Tahir Whitehead vs. 2 Miles Killebrew
This, to me, is the strongest matchup in the entire tournament. Bad-ass Tahir Whitehead vs. frat boyish Miles Killebrew.
This all boils down to preference, because both names bring it and bring it hard. Are you an avid beer drinker? Miles Killebrew is your man. Are you a fan of caveman-sounding names? Tahir Whitehead is your choice. Are you both? Welcome to Hell. I can’t tell you which name to choose, but if you’re like me, you’ve probably had that mouse cursor hovering over each name for the past 15 minutes, frozen in contemplation. I’m sorry for this, but I cannot help you. This is your journey. Choose wisely, my friends.
1 Zach Zenner vs. 2 Darius Slay
We finish out the elite eight with another doozy of a matchup. Zach Zenner is an alliterative masterpiece and a training camp darling. Do not underestimate the power of both of those qualities. Darius Slay is a boastful and confident superstar-in-the-making with the word Slay in his name. Of all competitors, I’m not sure there is a person who fits the name more than Darius Slay.
That being said, I have to give the edge to Zenner in this matchup. Though both carry around dead weight with their first names, Zach is a better fit in the Zenner scheme. Zach Zenner built its team around players that fit their system. Darius Slay just features one superstar. Give me the team over the individual.