FanPost

Why I’m a fan of the Detroit Lions: Madden 07

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American football used to have no place in my household. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, hockey took precedence. I could name many of the Canucks legends before I could name any Detroit Lions player; heck, I barely knew who the Detroit Lions were.

Football, however, was not a foreign concept. Unlike many of my childhood friends, I was an avid fan of the Canadian Football League's BC Lions. When you are young, your parents and your geography dictate which teams you cheer for. In this case, my father passed down his passion for the CFL onto me. Watching legends like Geroy Simon, Brent Johnson, Korey Banks, and Cam Wake play before me is something that I will forever cherish.

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So that was that: the Vancouver Canucks and BC Lions, the only teams that I cheered for. "How did you become a Detroit Lions fan then?" you may ask.

It all started with Madden 07.

At the time, I hardly played computer games. With the exception of Roller Coaster Tycoon, all I had was my trusty Nintendo 64. I actually owned Madden 99 for N64, but never played it (I had bought my N64 second-hand, and it came with it).

In December of 2006, I was gifted the EA Sports 07 Collection for PC. In the collection was NASCAR SimRacing (it was a fun enough game, but I never really liked NASCAR), NBA Live 07 (I do not like basketball, and am quite certain that I have never installed it), NHL 07 (great game), Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 (I will always remember shooting a 56 with Mike Weir on TPC Sawgrass thanks to infinite mulligans), and, of course, Madden 07.

I already liked Canadian Football, so despite the different ruleset, I thoroughly enjoyed playing Madden. It was also how I started to learn about the American game, from players to divisions to rule differences (I knew all of the teams by this point).

Madden on PC was somewhat limited, since I was unable to play multiplayer with my friends (only one controller, and nobody wanted to use keyboard and mouse). As a result, I grew fond of its Franchise Mode, where you could control a team and lead it to glory; who doesn't like the prospect of that?

The PC version of Madden had a unique feature: you could upload custom logos to use with your teams. Being a logo fanatic (I loved SportsLogos.net), I took the opportunity to deck out my teams. While I would occasionally mix it up by creating the Canucks or the Océanic (a junior hockey team located in Rimouski, Québec), I would often create the Lions - the BC Lions.

However, to give your team custom logos and jerseys in Franchise Mode, you would have to relocate a franchise. Easy enough, right? Except, when renaming your relocated team, they could not have the same name as another. There within laid the problem: there was this team called the Detroit Lions.

The solution seems simple: just play as the Lions, relocate them, and make the Lions. With an offense featuring grizzled veteran Jon Kitna, home-run hitter Kevin Jones, 3rd-round steal Brian Calhoun, the dynamic duo of Roy and Mike Williams-

I am going to stop pretending that this was a good team. Playing as the Lions in Franchise Mode was equivalent to hard mode. When playing as another team in Franchise Mode, the Lions would become often become perennial losers, with QBs, RBs, and WRs busting left and right. No Calvin Johnson. No Matthew Stafford. It was a tough time for these digital Lions.

It was a challenge - and one that I was determined to complete.

As I frequently experimented with trial-and-error-and-reloading-saves-after-a-bad-season, I grew to like the players on the team. Dre Bly was a solid corner. Jason Hanson was a reliable kicker. Shaun Rogers was a beast in the trenches. Cory Schlesinger was... a fullback; sorry, I did not use fullbacks much and had no clue who he was at the time.

After about 7 months of playing, the 2007 season rolled around, and I was actually interested in the NFL. Whenever the Lions were on TV, I would try to watch them. These were the guys I played as, and I was able to turn some of them into Pro Bowlers. Deep down, I wanted to witness them achieve equal success, so that I could say I knew that they would be good.

It was a rough few years.

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Please note that as a Canadian citizen, I am ineligible for the contest. However, I consider the tale of how I began to cheer for the Detroit Lions to be bizarre-yet-interesting, and it is something that I hope to share with the community.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.