I attended a wedding Labor Day weekend and as soon as father of the bride found out I was a sports writer from Detroit he could not wait to poke fun and dismantle the hopes and dreams of Detroit Lions fans.
People from Chicago tend to do that.
“Yawl talking a lot of noise out of Detroit,” Bride dad said. “You know the Lions are not going to the Super Bowl. They are not going to win 11 or 12 games and win the NFC North. They are the Lions. People in Detroit need to wake up.”
He spoke with a smug, nasty grin.
He wanted to know if I bought into the hype. I told him I did.
“Do you think the Lions are going to be better than the Bears,” he asked.
Yes I do.
Oh, I get it. I had a homer on the line.
“Yawl forgot about Justin Fields,” he said. “This is going to be his break out season. The Lions are going to regret not drafting him. He is going to give you nightmares. You can’t stop him from running and he is going to carve your ass up through the air too.”
He was not the only Bears nut I ran into during Labor Day weekend. I stopped into a Barnes and Noble to look over the magazine selections. I wore a Detroit T-shirt. A man thumbing through NFL preview magazines perked up.
“You see this,” he said picking up a magazine devoted to the Chicago Bears. “I bet you don’t have this in Detroit. Chicago is a real NFL city.”
I admit that a slick, glossy 75-page magazine devoted entirely to the Lions’ history and upcoming season would be pretty cool. But I did not give him the satisfaction. I knew his angle. He wanted to talk about his dumb Chicago Bears.
“Do you know who is going to win the NFL North,” he asked.
“Let me guess,” I said. “The Chicago Bears.”
“Maybe,” he said. “Ii just know it won’t be the Detroit Lions.”
“You got that loud-mouth coach,” he said talking about Dan Campbell. “He don’t know what he is doing. He wins three games one year and then nine the next and all you people in Detroit are going bonkers.”
Ultimately, he admitted that the Lions are an improved team. They are not the stinkers of the past few decades. But he said the Lions will be lucky to win eight or nine games because they are not quite there yet. He called Detroit desperate because people believe in this team.
These people are walking like proud peacocks while talking about a Bears team that won three games last year.
Few people are talking about the Bears winning the NFC North. But there are plenty of people outside of Detroit who believe in the Lions.
The NFL believes. That is why the Lions are playing in the league’s high profile Thursday (8:20 p.m.) against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Former NBA super star Charles Barkley said he is rooting for the Lions this season because he loves the loud-mouth coach. How about former NFL defensive back Aquib Talib who said Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans should try to find a path to the Lions if he wants to have a chance at a ring with an up and coming team.
There is one notable personality who does not buy the Lions hype. That is ESPN personality Mike Wilbon. It figures. He is a native of Chicago.
I had to step up for my home town. Besides, I don’t like Chicago any way. There is a rivalry between the two towns.
Isiah Thomas and the Pistons used to have blood baths with Michael Jordan and the Bulls. MJ remains salty about the Pistons walking off the court without shaking hands during the waning seconds of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
People talk a lot about how the Pistons beat up on Jordan. But Bulls center Bill Cartwright with his wild elbows split Zeke’s head a few times.
Back in the 70s journeyman Bulls center Dennis Awtry and Pistons star center Bob Lanier used to have outright brawls at Chicago Stadium and Cobo Arena. I even got into a fight with a Chicago radio reporter who said “he was gonna kick my ass because you Detroit reporters think you are so important.”
We did think that way. So what.
The Blackhawks and Red Wing did not like one another.
And Bears fans were huge jerks when they flew in on those Southwest Airlines $19 flights to fill the Silverdome and Ford Field for games against the Lions.
I could not stand them. Just like the Bears fans I met last weekend.
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Original Photo Credit: © Matt Marton – USA TODAY Sports