Is it time for Detroit Lions fans to pull out the paper bags again? (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)
Why would I passionately cheer for a professional football team that hasnít ever given me anything back? Good question.
Did I ever really have a choice to root for anyone but the Detroit Lions? I grew up in the í90s, and those Lions teams werenít really that bad. In fact, they were quite competitive in that decade. In the 1991 season they went 12-4 and made it the NFC Championship game thanks to the greatest running back of all time, Barry Sanders. As a kid it was easy to root for Barry and the Lions. After every game my friends and I would go outside and try to emulate Barryís ankle-breaking moves. But those good times didnít last long, and most fan bases would laugh that we would even call them ďgood.Ē
Everybody knows what happened next. Barry unexpectedly retired, we had the Matt Millen era, and then finished 0-16 in 2008. Jim Schwartz gave us some temporary happiness during the 2011, 10-6 playoff season, but then won 11 games his next two seasons combined. He will probably be yet another coach who never gets another head coaching gig thanks to the damage he endured with the Honolulu Blue Leos.
Sadly, this is an addiction for me. I will never give up on this team. I have loved them from the start and could never love another team like I do the Lions. I keep telling myself all of this losing is only going to make winning sweeter. Am I an idiot for telling myself that? Do I even believe it? I have to.
In all of this losing there has been one constant, one staple, one name: William Clay Ford Sr. Ford Sr. has owned the Detroit Lions since 1963, and in all of those years has witnessed only one playoff win. His son, Bill Ford Jr., has recently taken more of a hands-on role, but unfortunately it hasnít made much of a difference, outside of the Millen firing.
In the billionaire community, too often a professional sports franchise is just another trophy. When you are on top, itís just something to have fun with, to play with, and to show off to friends. I guess you can compare it to what a puppy is to us 99 percenters. The Ford name is probably the most prominent name in the Detroit community, so it would almost be a crime if they didnít represent one of our four professional teams.
Do I hate William Clay Ford Sr. and Jr.? Of course not. Do I wish they were obsessively involved with the team like Jerry Jones of the Cowboys? Of course not. I just want some sort of change. The Ford Motor Company is doing something right. They didnít take the bailout and they have continually maintained profits for a while now. The Ford family put the right people in charge to make sure the Ford name is never tainted in regard to cars. I just wish they would do the same with football.
I am in my 30s now and canít take another decade of losing. The children of today now have Calvin Johnson to emulate in their front yards, and I hope and pray he doesnít retire out of frustration and break their hearts like Barry did to ours. I am not sure if Jim Caldwell will do anything to help, but I will wait and see.
I wait and see each year if anything will change. I wait and see if this team will someday place a large Band-Aid on a dying city. Iíve seen what winning can do when other Detroit teams have won, but none of them play football. Football is king.
I didnít write this to tell you I am done with the Lions. I didnít write this to tell you I will be rooting for another team in 2014.
I wrote this because I believe in the Ford family.
They know what it takes to be the best. It may sound like a cheesy, feel-good motivational speech, but it is the truth. Please get this right.
Carl Coffee, Woodhaven