In all three years running the Detroit Lions Name Bracket, this has been the most arduous. The first year was all about finding the voice of the tournament. I was writing freely for the first time in a while, and it was a fun departure from offseason boredom.
Things kicked into high gear in the second year of this tournament, as Jace Billingsley and the town of Winnemucca turned this experiment into a Thing. While it felt a little repetitive at times, I was lifted by the authentic enthusiasm of a small Nevada town. Maybe this Thing actually had legs.
But this year was draining from start to finish. First, Billingsley was nearly outed in the first round by a strong Matt Prater contingent. From there, it was only a matter of time before Billingsley’s reign was over. It was likely long overdue, but it felt like when he went, so did the soul of this tournament.
I don’t want to say my heart wasn’t in it this year, but something was missing from the tournament this time around. Perhaps I left too many days in between rounds. Perhaps we just got sick of the names that have been around for three brackets now. Or maybe everyone is still amped and I’m the only one falling out of love with it.
I don’t know what the future of this tournament will be, but I do know the present. We have a Finals to get to and a champion to crown.
2 Teez Tabor vs. 2 Storm Norton
No name has been more controversial in than Teez Tabor. Much like his struggles on the field, Tabor’s presence has caused a rift in the Lions fandom. Some believe Teez should be judged by his birthname: Jalen. Others believe Teez is fair game, because that is how he is listed on the Detroit Lions official roster.
I visited an oracle before the tournament, as I always do, to bless this tournament and bless the rains in a far away region. But as soon as I walked in the door, her eyes rolled in the back of her head and she sat unresponsive for hours.
After helping myself to a hefty serving of Jersey Cleanse she kept in a warped bottle behind the counter, I left with an unshakable sense of dread. Throughout the next week, I would wake with visions of Tabor laying waste to this tournament. Having this bit of information at my disposal, I tried to nip it in the bud with an official first-round ruling that Teez was legal, and that was that. But the prophecy had been foretold. There was nothing I could do about it.
The virtual streets ran with blood. Teez. Jalen. The lines were viciously drawn, and the teams in utter disgust of the other. There was no hope for reconciliation. No hope for peace.
I figured the controversy would die when our savior Jace Billingsley would vanquish the false prophet, but somehow Teez... or Jalen survived. Our final hope, Darius Slay, put up the fight of his life. Having been a three-time Final Four contender, the stars were aligned for a hero to emerge from the murky depths of Teez-gate. But he, too, was Slay’n.
But fear not, my fellow Bracketeers. Because I see a slaughter on the horizon. I see a blinding ray of sunshine blasting through the clouds, and his name is... wait, Storm? Shit, I probably should have chosen a different metaphor.
Go get him, Storm.
Who has the better name?
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