Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Friday, December 16, 2005

Mad Fans - Beyond Thunderdome!

So is Ford Field going to become Thunderdome this Sunday? Two teams enter, one team leaves? That's what a lot of people around here seem to expect. And I think it's fair to say that Sunday's game against the Bengals is the most anticipated during Matt Millen's five-year regime. It's all the rage on sports talk radio and the blogosphere. And the national press, such as ESPN, is waiting to see what will happen, as well.

Lions fans seem ready for an outright revolt. The "FI-RE MIL-LEN!" chant has become the new black at every sporting event in the area (and has even found its way to other cities). You can buy t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, and football jerseys that say "Fire Millen."

Duncan DeBruin, of "Fire Millen" sign fame, has become a local cult hero. (Years from now, we could be talking about him the way Kyle Reese talked about John Connor in The Terminator. "He's got a strength. I'd die for John Connor!") His makeshift sign has been photoshopped into the hands of Saddam Hussein, the Pope, and Matt Millen himself.

We've got websites like firemattmillen.com, firemillen.com, firemillen.net, and since57.com. Sports talk radio station WDFN is organizing an "Angry Fan March" before Sunday's game and sponsoring a billboard near Ford Field. TheLionsFanatics.com is asking fans to wear orange shirts - the primary color of the Cincinnati Bengals - to the game for an "Orange-Out" protest against team ownership.

(Photo by Morris Richardson/ The Detroit News)

I love that Lions fans are expressing their displeasure and letting their voices be heard. Look at how fans in other cities handle losing and mediocrity. The Chicago Cubs, for instance, never have a motivation to change anything. They know that, no matter, that Wrigley Field is going to sell out most every game each summer. The fanbase embraces that "lovable loser" mindset that their history has perpetuated.

But Lions fans, they're mad as hell, not going to take it anymore, and trying their best to effect change with their favorite football team. T-shirts, chants, marches, and banners are the new pitchforks and torches. The outrage is just too loud to ignore now. The Lions and their ownership have to do something after this season is mercifully over to appease the masses. People invest their love, time, and money in this team, and have gotten a putrid product in return. Our excitement has been thrown right back in our faces. Too many Sunday afternoons and Monday mornings have been ruined by the terrible football the Lions have presented over the past five years (and decades before that).

So what's actually going to happen on Sunday? I'm all in favor of safe, non-disruptive (but noticeable, of course) methods of protest. However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit fearful of what else we could see. A later 4 p.m. start gives fans another 3-4 hours to get liquored up. I haven't attended a game at Ford Field yet, so I don't know how different the environment is from the Pontiac Silverdome.

But I remember how #$@%ing crazy people could get there, especially when they had more time to drink. You could spend the whole fourth quarter scanning the stands for fights breaking out, instead of watching the game on the field. A simple trip to the bathroom could be an unwelcome adventure. (And if a fight broke out near you, your day was probably ruined.)

Don't do it, people. Don't throw $#!+ on the field. Don't get into fights amongst yourselves, and certainly don't be stupid enough to try and take on one of the players. Please don't run on the field naked. No streaking. I know the game is indoors, but it's still very cold. It might be good for a laugh, but we see enough naked men when we look in the mirror each morning, okay?

Just enjoy the game, even if means rooting for the other team. (And you might as well, because the Lions have no chance on Sunday.) Look at how the Cincinnati Bengals play the game and see how a good (maybe great) team applies its craft on offense and defense. Remember how beautiful a downfield pass can be while admiring Carson Palmer throw to Chad Johnson. (And if Chad has the onions to whip out a "Fire Millen" sign after scoring a touchdown, I promise I will buy a Bengals #85 jersey next week. He will be my hero.) Watch the offensive line open holes for Rudi Johnson to run through. Wince and yell "Oooooh!" when Odell Thurman knocks the snot out of Artose Pinner or Marcus Pollard.

Civil disobedience is the last thing Detroit needs. Its reputation already stinks. Columnists, commentators, and analysts already have those pieces written, ready to run next week. They're just waiting for the cue to break them out. They'll show the same old footage of cars being turned over and set on fire in 1984. They'll show the abandoned buildings. They'll sling the same old, tired, rehashed, stupid jokes and insults about our city and its people. Why give ammunition to those who want to insult and make fun of us?

Please don't do it. Show your unhappiness, voice your displeasure. But don't make anyone miserable. Don't stain a town that's trying to clean itself up and reform. Relish the chance to let your voice be heard. Share in the camaraderie with your fellow fans and friends. Protest productively and constructively. Be safe. Let everyone enjoy themselves.

And then forget about this team until they hire a new coach, general manager, and select the next supposed superstar of the future in April's NFL Draft. On three - Go... Change!


  • At December 16, 2005 3:47 PM, Anonymous Kevin said…

    I had similar thoughts yesterday.


    I see bad things happening on Sunday. Hope I'm wrong.

  • At December 16, 2005 8:07 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    The only difference between Lions fans and the Cubs' supporters is that the Lions fans are currently angry.

    Both have been underwhelming for a long time (the Cubs wish they had a title as recently as 1957), but both sets of fans fill their respective stadium regardless.

    I embrace a peaceful protest of Millen's regime, but do worry that it will escalate.


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