One of the amazing things about this blog is meeting Lions fans from all over the world. Fans who can’t attend games, watch local TV, or listen to local radio can use the same Internet that everyone in southern Michigan can! Displaced Lions fans can follow all the news and analysis like they never left—and new fans from around the world can get up to speed like a local.
DirecTV is holding an Ultimate Displaced Fan contest. Entries can be an essay, photo, or (ideally) a video explaining why they are the ultimate displaced fan. There are some ridiculous prizes: a trip to the super bowl, a media tour with one of your favorite Lions, and a chance to play in the nationally-televised celebrity Beach Bowl.
I know this blog’s readership contains some ridiculously creative people. The last time I held a contest, I asked people to write about their greatest moment of Lions pride. Here’s the intro paragraph of the contest winner:
There I was, in the body of a Lions fan at 18,000 feet. Oil covered my windscreen -- my lifeless Merlin engine on fire. My canopy could not be budged - I was locked inside an aerial coffin. I watched, transfixed, as my altitude evaporated like rubbing alcohol in the noon-day sun. Paralyzed by fear and anxiety, suffocating under the weight of knowing I would be obliterated in a matter of moments when my stricken Spitfire met the hard, dusty surface of the Libyan desert below. The trim, sand-colored little Messerschmitt, my destroyer, spiraled away to celebrate his kill. A life snuffed out in a flash. A momentary blip on a radar screen only the gods will ever see. Oh, the humanity!
He eventually got around to the Lions thing.
Last year’s winner made a little tutorial video on how to win this thing, and I’d LOVE one of you to go out and win it. So, if you’re a huge Lions fan and you need at least a hotel and probably airfare to see a game in person, enter the Ultimate Displaced Fan contest—and win it for all of us.
What’s the opposite of a raving, team-color-bleeding homer who can’t ever go to the stadium? One guy who goes to all of the stadiums. Paul Swaney of StadiumJourney.com goes to—and reviews—basically every stadium in every sport. He recently attended the Chiefs game and reviewed Ford Field.
The review was fair and accurate, giving top marks for the food, and above-average ratings for everything else. The “fans” rating was especially intriguing:
It is certainly human nature for a fan base that has endured what Lions fans have endured to be down on their team. There is no doubt though, that a new aura of hope is almost tangible as you walk through Ford Field, and sit in the stands amongst the loyal supporters.
Fans don Lions jerseys more often than not, and they can get very, very loud when they want to. Still, this is a group that seems to responsive to the noise meter on the scoreboard than any instinctual reaction to the play on the field. The Lions still have trouble selling out many games. Again, this is understandable given the lack of success year after year.
It will be interesting to see if the Lions can begin to produce consistent winners with the young core of talent they have assembled. You can certainly feel the optimism in the air, but for now, this fan base seems so-so compared to many others.
Now if he'd come on Monday Night . . .
Honestly though, I think Paul was spot-on with the feeling and atmosphere. In my very first post, I called Ford Field a “hollow jewel” because of the lifeless, shrink-wrapped, sterile feel of the stadium. I don’t think that’s the case now—but remember that at the Chiefs game (when Paul attended), many still weren’t sure how “for real” this year’s Lions team was, so the quick Chiefs start sucked some of the life out of the building—and the sudden blowout flipped the switch to the other extreme: having a blast without necessarily paying rapt attention to the game. Still, Paul could sense what’s building within the fanbase:
Time will tell if the Lions can become contenders, and if they do, then this could easily become a raucous stadium to watch the NFL. Do yourself a favor and visit Ford Field in the near future. Better yet, sped your Thanksgiving at Ford Field, an NFL tradition going back to 1934 when the Lions moved from Portsmouth, Ohio to the Motor City.
So do yourself a favor and read the official Stadium Journey review of Ford Field. Many thanks to Paul for coming to Detroit and checking our team.