I Fucking QuitS

I've spent my first 38 years on this planet in an abusive relationship. Not with a parent or a spouse or a sibling or a co-worker, but with a football team. I'm not talking in the Jonathan Martin sense, I'm talking more in the emotional and psychological sense from the attachment that you have to a team you've supported all your life. For every one of those years it's been a one way street where my love, devotion, and disposable income is only ever rewarded with agony, frustration, and disappointment. Where each and every time what I get in return is that more grueling, that more upsetting, and that more ridiculous. It's like having Jigsaw as your Secret Santa every year. I have had enough.

My psyche's personal "Ike Turner" is none other than the Detroit Lions. For some background, I am the product of a relationship between a Long Island mother and a Michigander father, having lived in both regions growing up in the 80's and early 90's. As a result of that I obtained a love for two teams: the Lions and New York Islanders. The Islanders were (in my youth at least) a juggernaut, like the heroes from my comic books who always found a way no matter what. They were one of the great American sports dynasties, until they finally ceded to the next dynasty. They've been terrible for the majority of the last 25 years now, but as far as I'm concerned with 4 straight Stanley Cups, they're playing with house money for the rest of my life.

The Lions on the other hand, have had next to no redeeming value for the entirety of not only my existence, but most of my father's as well. My continued fandom of the team is similar to that you would feel towards a sibling with a recurring drug habit. A misplaced sense of loyalty to someone who's in no way loyal to you or who ever lives up to even the lowest expectations. Just so you can grasp the gravitas of the situation here's a list of some of the team's outstanding accomplishments:

Last championship: 1957. Eisenhower was still in his first term as U.S. President. Alaska and Hawaii weren't even states yet. Here's a fun game, if you ever want to know how long the Lions' championship drought is, take the current Super Bowl number and then add 9 to it.

Last Playoff win: 1991. The Lions beat Dallas 38-6 in the NFC Divisional Playoff. This is the high point of my life a Lions fan. Our 12 wins that season were their most ever. We were then summarily raped in the NFC Championship Game the next week by the Redskins.

Last Division Title: 1993. Incidentally, their last home playoff game as well. We call this one "Brett Favre Begins."

Last Pro Bowl QB: Greg Landry (1971). Greg turns 67 years old tomorrow!

Lest you think on field disappointment is the only thing this franchise brings you, there is probably no other team that has had as much personal tragedy as the Lions. Here are some of the more notable occurrences that demonstrate the black cloud that hangs over this team's head:

Chuck Hughes: The only NFL player ever to DIE on the field during a game. He suffered a fatal heart attack during the final minutes of a game against the Bears in 1971. He had run a pass route but was not part of the play. He was jogging back to the huddle when he collapsed on the field. His autopsy revealed that his coronary arteries were 75% blocked and that he was killed by a blood clot that completely cut the circulation to his heart.

Don McCafferty - Two years removed from winning Super Bowl V as the Colt's head coach, he was hired by the Lions. After his first season, he suffered a heart attack while cutting his lawn and died on the way to the hospital.

Reggie Rogers: Broke his neck in a 1988 auto crash while drunk and was charged with negligent homicide due to 3 teens dying in the accident.

Mike Utley: Paralyzed from the waist down in a 1991 game against the Rams. In very unLion-like fashion, team used this as a rallying point and won 12 games that season and a playoff game.

Eric Andolsek: In 1992, at the age of 25 was killed in his front yard while gardening by a tractor trailer that ran off the road. This is a death that would've been deemed too unrealistic by the directors of the Final Destination films.

Reggie Brown: In a 1997 game against the Jets suffered a spinal cord contusion while assisting on a tackle. He lay motionless for 17 minutes on the turf at the Pontiac Silverdome, briefly losing consciousness. CPR saved his life, and emergency surgery saved him from using a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Corey Smith: In 2009, the defensive lineman was one of four men on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico that capsized. Only one man survived, Smith was never found.

Now some will try to chalk these events up to silly things like CURSES!!!!! but really they're just afraid to point the finger where it belongs. This is sort of an easy trap to fall into being that sports fans can typically be a superstitious lot, and from a purely statistical standpoint alone the sheer amount of futility seems almost impossible.

However, the answer is much simpler than that. This team is now, and always has been since the day he bought the team, rotten from the top down. I'm talking about the ownership of William Clay Ford. Nothing is better than being a business that's run by someone who inherited a family fortune! We should've known this was doomed from the start given that the day he bought the team in 1963 was the same day JFK was assassinated. Since then it's been one colossal failure after the next. Here's a few notable ones:

The casting out of Bobby Layne: Football's Mickey Mantle.

The move indoors to the Silverdome and later Ford Field: Because apparently the Packers, Bears, Browns, Bengals, and Chiefs can all survive outside in the winter in the Upper Midwest but we cannot. This leads to endless announcer narratives about the Lions being "soft" and not able to play "outside" or "in the cold" as if the players had all spent their lives in hermetically-sealed bubbles before becoming Lions. This is usually correct.

Barry Sanders walks away: Probably the greatest running back ever in the NFL decided to flat out retire in the middle of his contract rather than endure an 11th season as a Lion in 1999. He did this, mind you, with the all-time rushing record well within his reach. He did this mostly because then coach Bobby Ross was a raging asshole, and the Fords misplaced sense of loyalty to him over Sanders gave Barry few options.

Matt Millen: FUCK HIM.

Joey Harrington: Even Millen knew he sucked. The Fords overrode him and made the pick here.

0-16!: Hey, that was fun! Always nice to be reminded of 2008 too any time the last remaining winless team gets a win.

And those are only a few examples. He's known for "infinite patience" with his coaches and GM's, which typically means a lack of understanding on his part and an overall lack of accountability. I know his son Bill Ford, Jr. makes most of the team's decisions now that WCF is in his late 80's, but that apple doesn't fall far from the tree. This is no better reflected than in the current regime of GM Martin Mayhew (Millen's protégé BTW) and Jim Schwartz. A team laden with the most talent it's had in 15 years, yet a frenetic, unhinged mess most of the time.

This season however, for the first time in years the team seemed poised to make a move. Due in part to their own doing (a 6-3 record after 10 weeks) and the fact that their two biggest competitors QB's were out for multiple weeks (Cutler), if not the season (Rodgers). Fast forward a mere 5 weeks later and the team now sits 7-7 after yet another comical home loss (a 61 yard field goal!) and is now in THIRD place in the division and completely out of a playoff spot.

If you think that loss is excruciating to a Lions fan, it's not. It may not even be in the top 10 worst losses in this team's history. Here's a few other gems in the franchises history:

Nov 8, 1970 vs. Saints: Tom Dempsey, a kicker with half a foot, hits the longest, non thin-air aided FG in NFL history (63 yards) to beat the Lions as time expired.

Nov 27, 1980 vs Bears: Dave Williams returns the overtime kickoff of the nationally-televised Thanksgiving Day game for a TD. Did I mention the Lions led 17-3 to start the 4th quarter?

Nov 25, 1982 vs Giants: Another Thanksgiving debacle. Tied 6-6 late in the 4th quarter Lawrence Taylor runs an INT back 97 yards for the game-winning score. God, Gary Danielson sucked.

Dec 31, 1983 vs 49ers, NFC Divisional Playoff: Eddie Murray made 3 field goals, including a post-season record 54-yard kick. but missed a potential winning 43-yard kick with 5 seconds left in the game. Eight year-old me cried for a week after this.

Nov 24, 2002 vs Bears: Tied 17-17 going into overtime at the University of Illinois, the Lions win the coin toss but coach Marty Morhinweg decides "take the wind" and defers the ball to the Bears claiming it was due to the strong winds that day. The Bears took the opening kickoff, drove down the field, and kicked the game-winning FG.

Dec 19, 2004 vs Vikings: Trailing 28-21 with 1:37 left in the game, Joey Harrington (yes, Joey Harrington) drove the Lions down the field and threw a 1 yard TD pass to Roy Williams. However, on the extra point attempt, a bad snap by long snapper Don Muhlbach bounced before reaching the holder who was then tackled and the PAT was no good. The Vikings recovered the ensuing onside kick and were able to run out the remaining seconds and win by a score of 28-27.

And really that only scratches the surface. There are probably a dozen others just as bad that my mind has blocked out due to the post-traumatic stress I've incurred as part of this fandom experience. The point is nothing ever changes, and the only constant in the organization since 1963 is the stewardship of the Ford Family. Each Lions game and each Lions season is a bad chapter in a book with a bad ending that we see coming a mile away. The only real intrigue is just how tragic the shit show is going to be? Will it be a Greek tragedy? Or just the ending to Se7en?

I'm not sticking around to find out anymore. As we've seen this season, even with odds stacked in their favor, the Lions will always in the end pull defeat out of the jaws of victory. (except when Tony Romo proves he's better at it.) They can have arguably some of the best players at their position of all-time (I'm so sorry, Calvin) and a QB who's capable of putting up video game numbers, but they'll always come back to the one constant, the one undeniable truth, the one most "Lions" thing of all. You know it, I know it, and everyone outside the Ford family likely knows it.

And I started to hate them for it. I started to lower my opinion of my own father for foisting this albatross on me. I started wishing he passed on something less demeaning like say, male-pattern baldness instead. I started becoming the "angry, old man in his chair" watching them play on a weekly basis. I would literally rage out loud at the stupidity shown by the players, coaches, and management. But who was more foolish? The team for continuing to be pitiful when everything is set up for them to succeed? Or me for continuing to watch them and expecting a different result?

In the end, I've had the power to let go all along. Like many things from childhood that we carry with us into adulthood, be it bad habits or preconceived notions about people or the world, we can learn to let them go, and grow and move on. Why should this be any different? So I am. Regardless of the tease next week if they win and the other division teams lose. I've seen it before too many times. I'm not going to try to kick that football when Lucy promises not pull it away this time. I know she will and my clothes are coming off (probably the only time that sentence has ever been used in a negative context).

I'm done, I'm out, I quit.