Tinderbox: Nate Burleson, and the MLS In Detroit

>> 8.10.2010

06 December 2009: Wide receiver (81) Nate Burleson of the Seattle Seahawks carries a 12th Man flag and leads his team out of the tunnel during player introductions before playing against the San Francisco 49ers before the Seahawks 20-17 victory over the 49ers at Quest Field in Seattle, Washington. When Kyle Vanden Bosch was signed, we heard a lot about how his nonstop motor, both on- and off-field, would set the tempo for the Lions’ young defensive linemen.  We heard a lot about how his intense play, intense practice tempo, and intense personality would teach the youngsters how to do it the right way—and, almost regardless of Vanden  Bosch’s own production, would make the defensive line better.

When Nate Burleson signed, most of the talk centered around his production and his compensation—we heard almost nothing about his intangibles.  Well, if you’ve read Tom Kowalski’s latest piece on Mlive.com, then you know  that Burleson’s arrival has catalyzed the transformation of the wide receiver corps.  What was once a frustrated Calvin Johnson surrounded by underperforming castoffs has become a lively, competitive group that sees themselves among the best units in the league.

One of the fun things about Twitter is following athletes, and seeing what they say to each other—and by following @Nate13Burleson, @bigplaycj, @1BryantJohnson, and @DWheelz12, I’ve seen the off-field esprit de wide receiver corps building all offseason long.  It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the wideouts are taking that same camaraderie between the sidelines, as well.  Handshakes, TD celebrations, friendly competitions, are all a part of building confidence, building unity, building excitement, and fostering a winning attitude—finally, changing the “losing culture” we’ve heard so much about over the past decade(s).

There were whispers last year that Megatron was becoming “Lionized” last year, losing motivation and focus because of the crushing futility of trying to win in Detroit.  Well, maybe being Lionized can have a different meaning now: attitude, confidence, fun, swagger.  Yeah, I said swagger.

Two of Ty & Mamayuv's kids playing soccer Tonight, on ESPN2 (and Univision), the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) will be taking on Brazil.  This’ll be the first time we get to see our national team in action since the World Cup, and I’m interested to see what the national excitement level for this match is.  Of course, the old home of the Lions, the Silverdome, recently hosted a match between two elite international pro teams, AC Milan and Panathinaikos FC, billed the “Match of the Titans.”  Announced attendance was over 30,000, proving that there’s a significant fan base in Michigan.  The Silverdome ownership group is hoping to lure the MLS to Detroit with a radical makeover of the building, and I, for one, hope they pull it off.

I’m sitting here holding a registration form for Parks & Rec soccer for my eldest, & I’m about to go turn it in.  I never played soccer myself, and know very little about the game—but something about the international flavor of the sport has lured me and my kids in.  With the Tigers an annual exercise in hope and heartbreak, it’d be awesome to have another Detroit team to cheer on during the interminable wait for the NFL.  So, watch the USMNT tonight at 8:00 on ESPN2.  Go check out MotorCitySupporters.com.  Add @MCSDetroit to your Twitter feed, and join the grassroots effort to bring MLS to Detroit.


2 comments:

Anonymous,  August 11, 2010 at 9:44 AM  

Ty, some advice for you getting your kids into soccer. Get involved in the team and help coach. I got into it when my middle daughter was in second grade, coached her to 5 winning seasons (3 undefeated) and never played a minute of soccer in my life. Just remember that soccer is the same as hockey without the hits and you will do fine.

Ty August 11, 2010 at 9:47 AM  

Anon--

Thanks! I'd actually thought about volunteering to help coach. My dad coached me in T-ball and it was a really cool experience. Your comment is nudging me further in that direction . . .

Peace
Ty

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