Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

For Those Who Had to Watch, We Salute You

Before turning the page on 2008, I have to post one more thing about Motown's gridiron heroes, the Detroit Lions.

This isn't about the firing of coach Rod Marinelli. That was a no-brainer. The man was the worst ever at his job. No one else has ever gone winless in a 16-game season. How the hell do you bring that guy back? So no surprise there.

No, this post is to stand and give a slow clap to the poor guy who had to watch all of the crappy football southeastern Michigan's most prominent professional and college teams inflicted upon its fans this year and describe it those of us who followed the games on radio. Yes, he was paid for it, as a professional broadcaster. But he also surely paid a price, having to endure some soul-crushingly bad football.

We're talking about Jim Brandstatter, color analyst for both the Michigan football and Detroit Lions radio broadcasts. Out of the 28 games he called this season, Brandstatter provided commentary for only three victories. Michigan went 3-9. The pitiful Lions failed to win a single game. He witnessed the worst season Michigan football has had in 46 years. And as we've already covered, the Lions set NFL history for losing all 16 of their games.

Hey, at least we had the option of turning off the TV or radio. (And I did that more this year than I ever have.) Not Brandy. Hopefully, the strength and discipline instilled in him when he played for Bo Schembechler at Michigan helped him through this.

Salutes must also be given to my buddy Big Al, who live-blogged every single one of the Lions' incompetent performances, in addition to posting related news and commentary each day at The Wayne Fontes Experience. (I thought blogging about the Detroit Tigers was tough.) And to my fellow SB Nation blogger Sean Yuille, who authors blogs devoted to both University of Michigan sports and the Lions. Man, that's a tough year.

Can we please turn the calendar on 2008 in Detroit sports? (Except for the Red Wings. You guys are doing a hell of a job and shouldn't be overlooked. Even though I kind of just did that.) 2009 can't possibly be as bad. Can it?

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rooting For 0-16 Does Not Make Me Less of a Fan

So I'm watching "SportsWorks" on Fox 2 Sunday night, as Dan Miller, Jamie Samuelsen, and Sean Baligian try to pick apart yet another loss (the 14th of the season) by the Detroit Lions. And there's really only so much to say when the losing continues week after week. Maybe the Lions are showing a little bit of fight at the end of the season, especially as it tries to avoid becoming the first team in NFL history to go winless over a 16-game season, but with only two games left on the schedule, they're running out of chances to avoid pro football infamy.

But while discussing that very possibility, Miller asks Samuelsen and Baligian if they're part of the "moron contingent" of Lions fans that is rooting for the team to go 0-16. And when I hear that, I sit up. Because I count myself among the segment of Detroit sports fans that want to see the Lions suck on a historical level. And maybe my perception is influenced by the echo chamber of my friends, but I don't believe I'm in the minority on this. I think many Lions fans believe that the only way the team has any chance of getting better is for the ownership to suffer the kind of humiliating indignity that they'll never want to experience again.

Apparently, that makes me a "moron." Or as MLive.com's Tom Kowalski put it, not a real Lions fan.

If you want these things to happen and you still want to call yourself a Lions fan, I have a huge problem with that. It might be a silly little pet peeve of mine, but I firmly believe that once you start rooting for your team to lose, you're no longer a fan.

My response to Miller and Kowalski on this consists of two words.

Fuck you.

(What, did you think they'd be "Merry Christmas"? I'm sorry, but no other words better capture how I feel about this.)

Let me get this straight: two members of the credentialed Detroit sports media - who are paid to attend games and watch them from what is essentially an office environment in the press box - are going to tell people whether or not they're fans? Miller, as the radio play-by-play man for the Lions, is literally a professional mouthpiece for the team. Kowalski is presumably impartial as a beat reporter, but when you spend that much time around a group of coaches, players, and executives, it's impossible to remain completely objective. And he doesn't.

Am I less of a Lions fan than I was three years ago? Absolutely! This team - and its entire organization - has given me nothing to root for. Their games are a frustrating, joyless ordeal. And I can't even watch another, better team that might play more enjoyable football. (Believe me; I've tried to find a new team. But what fun is it to root for Pittsburgh's team? Or New York's team?) The Lions have actually drained my love of the sport right out of me.

Would I be more of a fan to blindly surrender my loyalty to a team that has given its fans an utterly inferior - and progressively worse - product for eight years? Am I not a fan because I want the team that represents my community to get better and know, deep down, that it can only be rebuilt once it's completely destroyed?

Miller and Kowalski dispute that line of thinking, asserting that changes are going to be made, so there's ultimately no difference between a 1-15 and 0-16 season. No, there is every bit of difference. Other teams have gone 1-15 or 2-14 before. No team has gone winless. And if the Detroit Lions have to carry that weight around their collective necks, maybe they'll work that much harder to make us forget what a laughingstock they've been.

The fact that I'm hoping for that, that I care enough to have typed out 600 words about all this, makes me a fan. How dare someone in the media try to tell me otherwise.

Labels: , ,