the bonfire of the fans—and me

>> 7.31.2009

As the self-appointed “flamekeeper”, I take it upon myself to tend the blue bonfire that us frozen, weary Lions fans huddle around.    Ever since that frostbitten, breath-freezing  morning back in December--when there was no hope, no chance, and nothing left to cheer for—I’ve been striking silver flints to make blue sparks, guarding the little tendrils of flame from the wind with my hands, packing snow against snow to keep blowing drifts from smothering the fire, and worked tirelessly to keep that blaze alive.

A few kindred souls saw the silver smoke rising, far off on the bleak horizon.  Teeth chattering, they trudged through the snow.  One by one, Lions fans gathered here from all over the world, holding up their hands to the fire, and thawing out a little bit.  The few hardy folks who’ve come back again and again over the interminable, Siberian offseason have been joined by more and more new faces.  Today, on the morning when the Lions’ 2009 football season begins in earnest, I’m pleased to say the lonely little fire now roars; the grim gathering of a few embattled, frostbitten fans is now more like a party.

Amidst a small crowd of Lions fans gathered to talk honestly and intelligently about the team they support, you see me, sporting my furry winter hat.  I’m stoking the flames of fandom.  I’m chopping, splitting, and hauling the wood and kindling.  I’m pulling draughts from casks of hot spiced cider (and splashing in shots of warm spiced rum), and passing the steins around.  I’m shaking hands and slapping backs, glad to see the men and women and boys and girls who’ve come again to share their friendship, and their fandom.

Today, it begins.  The long months of cursing and conjecture, of complaint and celebration, of draft grades and free agent ‘shopping lists’ and trades both blockbuster and lackluster . . . now, metal meets metal.  Plastic meets plastic.  Beef meets beef.  As deeply (and accurately!) as this game can be quantified with a database, slide rule, or graphing calculator, it’s all talk until two tons’ worth of muscle and sinew collide like an angry bull and a slow matador.  For all the many words that have been written—and will be written, here--breaking down the players and coaches and alignments and position battles to come over the next few weeks, all that really matters is what happens on green grass and white lines in Allen Park.  For the first time since I created this space, we as fans will discuss not what has happened in the past, nor what might happen in the future, but what is happening now—your rebuilt, reborn, re-branded Detroit Lions taking the field and playing football.

Take a second, wherever you are, and raise your stein of cider to that.


13 comments:

Chuck,  July 31, 2009 at 12:02 PM  

I raise my glass to a successful season for our LIONS

Ty July 31, 2009 at 2:15 PM  

Hear, hear! *clink* GO LIONS!

Peace
Ty

goldsmith.jamie July 31, 2009 at 3:12 PM  

To the Lovable Leos!! May God bless Ford Field, Allen Park and our Lions!!

goldsmith.jamie July 31, 2009 at 3:13 PM  

Ty, Are you planning on going to many practices? Especially Thurs. Aug 13?

Ty July 31, 2009 at 3:32 PM  

Jamie--

Hear, hear! *clink*

Actually, since I live in Lansing, have a wife & three small kids, and, you know, a actual job, getting to the practices is always difficult. I will almost certainly be at the open practice at Ford Field. Since I'm a contributor to the Lions' Scout.com affiliate (http://det.scout.com), I do have access to some media resources, and of course I'll be corresponding with some of the media types down there via email/twitter/whatever. What's up with the 13th, are you going?

Peace
Ty

goldsmith.jamie July 31, 2009 at 3:46 PM  

I would like me and my 4 1/2 year old to drive up from Dayton, Ohio but I'm a little nervous about the first come/first serve policy.

Ty July 31, 2009 at 4:17 PM  

:D That's dedication! I don't know what to say except that if you make sure you get there as early as possible, to that practice (a later one, after the open practice), you should have a pretty good chance. I'd think most of the diehards will have been a couple of times by then . . . hmm . . .

Peace
Ty

Scotty G July 31, 2009 at 8:34 PM  

Hey Ty, I clicked on the "furry winter hat" link cause I always wondered what you look like. Just wondering, are you the guy on the right or the left?

goldsmith.jamie August 1, 2009 at 11:24 AM  

I am sooo pumped this morning, I feel like I am playing!! Feed me info, feed meeeeeee!!!LOL

Ty August 1, 2009 at 11:49 AM  

Scotty G--

The guy on the left's facial hair isn't that far off. I'm not as pasty (or thin) as either of those dudes, though!

Peace
Ty

Ty August 1, 2009 at 12:03 PM  

Jamie--

I'm actually on a road trip to Wisconsin right now, helping my brother-in-law out. Don't worry, I have my CrackBerry, and UberTwitter is truckin' along. Unfortunately the Lions' staff doesn't allow on-the-field live Tweeting/blogging/reporting; you probably won't see much info come out until the afternoon.

Peace
Ty

John from Champaign August 3, 2009 at 11:37 PM  

Ty - thanks for keeping the flame alive! For an out-of-state Lions fan like myself, sites like yours are much appreciated. It gets tough when you don't have other Lions fans living in your neighborhood to cry in your beer with or to celebrate with, so having an online community like this to go to and connect w/ other fans is great. It shows me that there are other passionate fans out there too, and that maybe I'm not crazy!

Anyways, keep up the awesome work - you've got some killer writing skills, I really enjoy your posts. later man

Ty August 4, 2009 at 4:52 PM  

John--

Thank YOU man! It does my heart good to hear kind words like that. One of the coolest things about blogging is meeting Lions fans who've been displaced from the great Wooded Mitten; as hard as it is to be a Lions fan HERE, I can't imagine having to deal with people from other states!

Don't worry, though, soon the Lions will be the hot team, and everyone'll think you're a bandwagon jumper! ;)

Peace
Ty

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