After the Kansas City win many Lions fans have found themselves reflecting, trying to digest this win, and what just happened. Everyone knows the stories about this long suffering fanbase. And only a few franchises can relate to the plight of being a Lions fan. The Browns fans who had to watch their team on the cusp of success, similar to this very Lions team, get torn apart and relocate to New England and Baltimore where they saw what could have been the most amazing dynasty in NFL history instead turn into that for the Patriots and Ravens. Could you imagine that Lions fans? To have seen our team up and move this year, the Fords deciding that Detroit was no longer a viable market and scuttling off Brad Holmes to a new location and letting Dan Campbell walk to another franchise? So some franchises have it pretty bad as well, maybe even worse. Even the Jets and Raiders come to mind in some regards, the Texans, there are a few other long suffering fanbases, but when it comes to the most downtrodden it has to be the Lions and the Browns who have the most Biblical sense of plight with their fandom.
So I think there are many out there in the NFL that have a similar experience, that can relate, that when we are with our NFL family we are that poor abused Lion, the one that has been abused and slapped around for so long that we only know fear when a hand approaches us. Because we have only known the negative outcomes, the bad things in football life, we have only known how to lose. And as a result, we all have Lions fandom PTSD.
We all deal with it in different ways. Some of us, the more emotionally strong and independent of us moved on years ago. We all took on second teams, or just moved on from the Lions completely. Some of us, still attached to our beloved, abusive, masters, could not let go, and thus just became fans of "the NFL", or perhaps moved on to the college game, as rooting for another professional team was just not possible.
Others took the "cautiously optimistic" approach. We hoped that we could take our Lions fandom in public and not be embarrassed. But deep down inside we all knew it was just a matter of time before that next backhand was coming. And the entire time that we were sitting there and using logic and reasoning and our big words to deflect our shame and bathe it, in the delusion of hope.
The most damaged of us became abusers ourselves. Known as the Same Old Lions Fans, we became the anti-hero of the fanbase. Instead of cheering for the Lions we cheer against them. We revel in the delight and pleasure of seeing the Lions lose. Driven mad by the abuse and pain, we have snapped and lost all ability to reason with presented logic. We only have pain, hatred, and a whirlwind of negative emotion to lash out with. Anyone who comes close will be punished with impunity because we have put up defense mechanisms to prevent ourselves from further hurt, at any cost to anyone. We may just be too far gone to recover as our love for the Lions has turned to bitter disdain and hatred.
This is the crux of being a Lions fan. It is like being in an abusive relationship and we are all in different stages of unpacking and processing all of the emotions that came along for the ride. Most of us are still in the stages of it where we need therapy and support. All you have to do is watch the reaction videos, the live streams, and the on site stories and experiences of Lions fans before, during, and after this landmark upset in Kansas City to see it. We as a fanbase are all over the place with it. So I am here to say.... Hello, my name is Steve, and I am a Detroit Lions fan. I have been a fan of the Lions for 44 years and I have continued to drink the Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid the entire time.
Maybe you all will lose respect for me for admitting that, perhaps my next words will have less meaning, but to those of you who understand my pain, you will understand where I am coming from. Let me first tell you that nothing gets me more emotional than football, and especially the Detroit Lions. Be it anger or tears, be those tears from joy or frustration, for better or worse, my heart has always blead Honolulu blue. But I did not cry when we hired or fired Matt Millen, nor Wayne Fontes, or Daryl Rodgers or Bobby Ross or Jim Schwartz or Jim Caldwell, and most certainly not Matt Patricia. In fact, I distinctly remember being disgusted and feeling dirty after we hired Matt Patricia, for reasons we will not discuss here.
Dan Campbell was different through. I balled my eyes out at his press conference. Finally, here was a guy that gets it! He understood what it was like to be a Lions fan. He played here, he saw it first hand, and he had his own tears to shed, his own emotional badge of abused honor on his sleeve, he had his own Detroit Lions scars and demons to exercise. And he was on a mission to do it. More than anything, we all knew on that day that our coach could relate to the fanbase. That was immensely important! Because to change a culture, you have to understand what that culture is and where it came from.
So to all of us Lions fans struggling to process this, it is okay to admit that you drink the Kool-Aid. It is okay because we can trust in our new Lions fandom father. We can trust him because he holds up to his word. Because he tells us like it is. Because he does not sugar coat it. He has prepared us to face the world as Lions fans and I will prove it. I will leave you with two quotes from Hard Knocks to support this statement.
1) "What are we? What makes us what we are? And what we’re going to be? I think it’s that right there," (Campbell gesturing at G-R-I-T written on the wall) "It’s our core foundation, man. Grit. And what does it mean? In a nutshell, I think it means this: We’ll go a little bit longer, we’ll push a little harder, and we’ll think a little deeper and a little sharper. To me, it means we’ll play anywhere. We’ll play on grass, we’ll play on turf, we’ll go to a fucking landfill. It doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter if you have one ass cheek and three toes. I will beat your ass."
2) "There’s a number of teams, as it equates to, just bear with me, the ocean, right? There’s a number of teams, they just barely get to the water. You’ve got to get in the water to compete. A number of teams, that’s all they get to. Then there’s a number of teams, they are in the shallows, and they come in a hurry, man, and they are all over your ass. They are all over your ass, and they strike and move. They strike and move, and they’re dangerous, man. You’ve just got to get ahold of them, though. If you can just get ahold of them, and you start dragging their ass to the deep, dark abyss, you can drown them, and that’s what we’ve got to be. That’s who we have to be, cause that’s our domain. That is our domain. Because we’ll tread water as long as it takes to fucking bury you. We’ll go as long as it takes, because we can, and we choose to."
And this my Lions fandom friends is what happened last Thursday night. Welcome to our domain Kansas City.