This morning, I was rooting through my drawers for an appropriate shirt. Being Friday—and, therefore, Casual—I often don the colors or gear of one of my chosen sports teams. During football season, I’m consistently sporting Lions gear to close out the work week. This morning, it clicked.
The Lions are not going to play any more football until next autumn.
As we age, years seem to get shorter and shorter. Seasons change as fast as we can get used to them, months are over before we know it, weeks melt away like ice in a fire . . . and days are interminable. Yet, this annual cycle of football/no football stays the same.
In-season, it feels like the game always has, and always will, be there—week after week after week, football has a lovely rhythm. We watch the game, have our Sunday outbursts, our slept-on-it Monday reactions, and our Tuesday and Wednesday reflections. Then, three days of hype about, breakdowns of, and buildup to the next contest.
But now, we step foot onto the seemingly-infinite ice sheet between us and more Lions. Oh, sure, there’s the playoffs, Super Bowl, college all-star games, etc.; we’ll get our football fixes. But as of right now, we no longer live in the real: we return to our annual festival of speculation, argument, infighting, name-calling, prognosticating, and pronouncement-making that DF1979 over at Roar of the Lions aptly calls the “Ifseason”.
The Ifseason has always been a double-edged sword. On one hand, “optimists” such as myself now have a an infinite canvas of snow upon which we can paint scenes of future Lions glory. On the other, every internet discussion about the current and future Lions will be like NFL front office LARP: imaginary battles fought with foam swords and pretend spells. Lions fans will argue vociferously over what is and is not real, what will and will not be, and what would and would not happen in various scenarios.
As exasperating—and pointless—as it is, it’s really all we have. Despite what can only be described as massive upheaval last offseason—new President, GM, Head Coach, coaching staff, logo, uniform, and half of the roster—the improvement was difficult to quantify: from immeasurably bad, to merely awful. Is 0-16 to 2-14 significant? Are the Lions on the right track? Did Mayhew, Harris, Schwartz, Cunningham, and Linehan overcome all odds to get this team back on the board, or did they fail spectacularly?
Obnoxiously, we won't be able to know—for real—until next autumn.