The starters won’t play for long. The schemes will be vanilla. The crowd will be slow to cheer, and quick to head for the exits. Everything is made up, and the points don’t matter. But tonight, at 7:30, the Detroit Lions will play football for the first time this season.
It seems as though this offseason has evaporated, the long bleak period of silence unexpectedly filled with the chatter and buzz of building expectations. The call for, and drafting of, Ndamukong Suh has stoked the little blue flame. More and more folks are coming ‘round to see what’s happening in Detroit: Matthew Stafford developing into a real leader, Calvin Johnson coming out of his shell, Jahvid Best primed to explode onto the scene, and Kyle Vanden Bosch cranking up the intensity on one of the most talented defensive lines in football.
Besides new national attention, old friends are coming back home to sit by the fire. I’m seeing Lions hats and T-shirts more than I have in years. I’m talking Lions with people—really talking about what’s happening, not just “Oh you’re still a fan, huh?” People really are eager to see the Lions take take the next step: they’ve gone from oblivion to existence; now from existence to worthwhile existence.
Of course, as I’ve said multiple times, there’s a danger in this: now that the Lions have taken one step forward, it’s possible that they could take a step back. Now that they’ve made progress, they may regress. It’s no longer true that the only way to go from here is up. Of course, it’s evident that this year’s Lions are more talented than last year’s iteration—but that safety net is gone. With the possibility of hope fulfilled, comes the possibility of hope denied.
In terms of the mechanics of the game, I did a guest game preview column for a very cool Steelers blog, The Steelers N'at. Pop over there and check it out (I included a little Aaron Brown highlight action for ya).
So, friends, are you ready? Is your parka off, and your jersey on? Are you feeling the heat of the blue bonfire? Let’s pour some cider, clink our mugs, and hang out in the comments section!