When I was working on my history degree at State I was required to read "My Bondage and My Freedom" by Frederick Douglass for about 98% of my history classes. If I remember correctly I believe I even had to read it for my college algebra and biology lab. Anyways there is a lengthy passage where Douglass writes about the happiest time of his life being when he was a child and lived with his grandmother, a freed woman, in a house just off the plantation. This allowed him to enjoy a carefree young childhood and remain ignorant of the evils of slavery occurring just a few miles away. Professors would always base a discussion around Douglass' "ignorance is bliss" statement because they knew some kids in class, namely the ones who toted crusty Beaners coffee mugs, reeked of patchouli, and described everything as "pragmatic", would drone on for 90 minutes waxing philosophically about Douglass/slavery/ignorance. Me, I sat in the back of the room slyly working on The State News crossword puzzle with Mr. Douglass a million miles away from my thoughts.
After the events of this afternoon I finally thought about and understood what Mr. Douglass was talking about. (Disclaimer: I didn't think about it until I sat down just now and tried to come up with an introductory paragraph, I never think that deeply, I also don't want you to think that I'm serious in comparing watching football to the horrible institution of slavery, because I don't think Mr. Douglass ever had to sit through a Lions game.) As I've mentioned before my dad has Detroit Lions season tickets, presumably as a passive aggressive way to punish me for the 20+ years of sucking him dry through allowances, college tuition, etc., etc. Today we arrived at the stadium shortly before kickoff and had to fight our way through dozens of people looking to dump extra tickets for as low as $5 dollars. My dad and I even saw a guy trying to help out a homeless man by offering him an extra ticket for free (!) so that the guy could re-sell it for a few dollars and the homeless guy turned him down.......I couldn't make this stuff up. After making it through the desperate ticket dumping crowd my dad and I found are seats, situated between a whole gaggle of early thirties alcoholic douchebags and their bimbo wives, and settled in for what was the most boring offensive game I've ever witnessed, and this is coming from someone who witnessed firsthand the Joey Harrington Era. In typical Lions fan fashion, a group which may the the bitchiest, fickle...i..est (?) group this side of Ann Arbor they turned on the team before the second quarter of the first game. By the second quarter I overheard people near us talking about how they wished Charlie Batch was still in Detroit after watching him play in the Thursday night game for Pittsburgh. This coming from people who wore #10 "Bitch" jerseys during his last season as starter. This was followed by more grousing at halftime where people were talking about hoping the team would switch to McCown for the second half, before things ultimately came to a head midway through the third when after two consecutive bad throws by Kitna, a man in the row in front of us, who had been relatively quiet leading up to that point, stood up and yelled "Joey Fucking Harrington could have made that throw" and after looking around for a couple of seconds completely beside himself, stormed off. I've never seen fans this irate, this early into the season.
Some more quick observations from the game:
1: The offensive line sucks.....still. Jeff "Sackus" (my friend takes credit for that) was back to racking up holding penalties and false starts like every other "Franchise" left tackle. Dominic Raiola is tenacious, if you count tenacity as trying to pick a fight with the guy who sacked the quarterback 5 seconds after the whistle blows because your stubby T-Rex arms are useless at blocking.
2: The defense was good enough to win but got zero help from the offense, by week 9 they should be so disenchanted by the ineptitude of the offense that they'll stop trying, like they did after last seasons Carolina loss.
3: Fernando Bryant is still constructed of papier mache, seems like the Lions would have investigated this before handing him a five year deal, it only took one hit from the equally fragile Darrell Jackson to sideline Bryant in this game. I don't know how Bryant makes it through the week without getting hurt, they must wrap him in bubble wrap and store him in a Styrofoam case, much like a bobblehead, between gamedays.
The one saving grace for my dad and I was that the Tigers were playing the Twins in the pivotal final game of a four game set. It was the great unknown, we were imagining a pitching duel between Bonderman and Santana with Craig Monroe breaking a scoreless tie in the 8th inning with a dramatic 3 run homer and pushing the division lead back to four games, and countless other dramatic scenarios. After Josh Brown's last second field goal beat the Lions my dad and I rushed out of the stadium and to the car to catch the Tigers score. We turned on the radio and.........commercial. Damn. After a few more moments the game comes back on with Dan Dickerson announcing a Twins pitching change in the 7th, which I immediately think is a good sign that Santana can't get through the seventh and I'm back to thinking about a tight game and late inning heroics before I finally hear the score. 8-0. Bonderman who probably hasn't won since July.......what.....he really hasn't won since July, I was being sarcastic. Jesus Christ. My dad reached over an immediately turned off the radio and we sat in silence for a few moments wondering why we even bother following sports, between the hundreds of dollars in season tickets following a hapless franchise, to watching the slow and excrutiating death of a team that you've invested your heart, soul and summer following, as they slip in the standings and dangerously close to out of the playoffs completely. When it dawns on me. The reason sports is worth following is for those moments of blissful ignorance (wait I already discredited myself by saying that I made up the introductory paragraph.......hmm....just play along) when you're filled with hope and your mind fills with thoughts of thrilling outcomes and heroic efforts. Sure, today sucked, but it's worth it.