Around this time last year, in the football dog days of summer, I threw down the gauntlet: I purchased an authentic Matthew Stafford jersey. After all the wailing and lamentation, after all the doom and gloom, after the fearful, exhaustive analysis I did in anticipation of Stafford’s selection, I literally “bought in” to him, Schwartz, Mayhew, and the totality of the New Lions. I said at the time:
As the Flamekeeper, the torchbearer, the self-appointed philosopher king of all true diehard Lions fans, I knew there was only one player I could in good conscience come bearing the livery of: Matthew Stafford. As much as I like Megatron, Kevin Smith, Julian Peterson, Cliff Avril, all those guys, Stafford is the franchise. He’s the quarterback, the field general, the spokesman, and the lynchpin of the entire organization.
Sure, there are a lot of naysayers, a lot of doubters, and a lot of obstacles to his success. But forget that. I’m throwing down the gauntlet. I’m investing my fandom—and my hard-earned jack--in this wunderkind. I said before the draft that if he’s the pick, we fans have got to support him the way we never supported Joey—and I’m not only going to support him, I’m picking up the banner and running. I hope that people see me, hand-in-hand with my wife and three kids, rocking the authentic Stafford, and think, “Wow, that guy must really believe.” And, maybe, possibly, then think “maybe I should, too.”
When Joanna Hunter, of the NFL’s PR department, Tweeted that Ndamukong Suh was #8 in jersey sales since April 1st, I idly thought that was pretty cool. Then it occurred to me: when was the last time a Lion, any Lion, cracked the top ten in jersey sales? I asked Ms. Hunter, and she duly answered: save for a brief period heading in to Calvin Johnson’s rookie year, she couldn’t find a Lion in the top ten at any point in her records (which go back to 2001).
This little bit of info is a big blue spark. Ndamukong Suh is on track to become the game-changing, tempo-setting, franchise-rejuvenating defensive player I’d wailed and lamented over in the runup to Stafford’s selection—moreover, fans who are not me are now buying in, figuratively and literally. I’d worried the 2-win record, the injury-interrupted rookie campaign from Stafford, and the worthless, sucking, Culpeppery void that was the last few games of the year had driven the casual fan off until the losing spell was broken yet this fall. Instead, Suh alone has been enough to get fans to open their hearts and wallets.
To this end, I’d like to see how you folks are repping your favorite Lions—past, present, and future. Blogger doesn’t allow images to be placed directly in comments, but a text description, and/or a link to a picture, will suffice nicely. Home, away, new, old, replica, authentic, throwback . . . post ‘em up! I’m really looking forward to what you folks have got.