I am finally back home safe in Michigan. The Internet works, I finally can type on a real computer, and I set my VCR wrong and ended up with 6 hours of paid advertisements for exercise equipment and the newest way to make money in real estate with no money down. Yes, this means I have NOT yet watched the latest Lions game versus the Bengals.
While I’m not too thrilled at that, I have some more thoughts gleaned from my vacation travels to regale you with. First, ClusterFox had a great point that at this point, especially in the secondary and now at OG we have a roster that is mostly dollar ninjas. Rather than re-explain this fun concept for the newer readers of this blog, let me direct you back to this vintage post from June of 2008 when Kevin Jones was cut. I especially find it ironic that I lambaste Culpepper as “done for” about a year and a half before he will be starting for the Lions against the Ravens… Nope. Not a lot of hope for this game, and it buggers my FFB playoffs since I have K. Smith and CJ as prime cogs in that league.
One other theme I want to go back to is what you plan, versus what you get. Often times, “academics” (defined as those who talk, write, discuss, and otherwise have grand ideas about things they have not and/or do not actually do, nor in most cases have ever, done) have a lot of trouble applying their ideas to the “real world.” I think of it kind of like video games such as Madden. Madden assigns a rating based on what they think a player is/can do, and that caps their upside. Take a player like Louis Murphy on the Oakland Raiders. How does a late round WR suddenly jump ahead of guys who were supposedly “better”? DeAndre Levy is another example. But that is just a misjudgment in talent, and will be corrected in the future.
The problem with most academics is they are predicting the unpredictable, or trying to put a generic label on what people will think or do in any given situation to keep research and theories manageable. The problem is, if I have ten couples sitting in my office in the EXACT same situation they will choose ten different plans of insurance and coverage options.
What can’t be predicted in football (and life) is emotion in the game, injuries, colds, flu, a bad night’s rest, guys having kids, marital troubles, missing home, missing friends, being pumped about taking on a favorite childhood team or a team that they feel they need to “teach a lesson”, having a chip from being belittled, being “undervalued”, a player ready to ”show them they are wrong”, just missing getting in a car accident the day before the game, the funny joke your teammate said that broke your concentration, having a bad warm up, coffee didn’t taste quite right… The list can go on and on. Football, like life, is human. While many humans can be predicted for the most part, for the other part they are totally unpredictable.
The same thing applies to my vacation to Florida, and correspond amazingly with the Lions’ football situation:
- I thought I was going to have wireless Internet where I was staying, and thus left some things to be done later because they wouldn’t normally take long — only to end up not having the wireless operational and realizing it was going to take 3 times as long to do things half as well (if at all) because I only had an iPhone…and was thankful to have that to work with. Sure, it’s not ideal but it is better than nothing. The Lions coaching staff must feel this way about the talent they are working with — it isn’t even a laptop with slow wireless, it’s a phone with 3 point font. They could beat most college teams most Sundays, but as far as the NFL… they know that no matter how great the plan is, if the players aren’t good enough the plan won’t work. But at least they keep clicking away, doing the best with what they have.
- I set out the perfect outfit for my brother-in-law’s wedding. Carefully I chose a nice outfit that blended in nice with the gorgeous dress Mrs. DF79 was to wear, but still comfortable and classy. We were also in charge of taking my brother-in-law’s tux and future sister-in-law’s wedding dress to Florida with us. Then, two days before the wedding, I found myself texting said in-law “what’s black and white and still in Michigan?” After he got done being ready to kill me, at least I could reveal it was MY clothes for the wedding – I had nothing but shorts and casual t-shirts. Next thing you know, I’m looking for men’s clothing shops near Walt Disney World and realizing that on my time schedule and budget, it is Super Target or nothing. Thank goodness I found an outfit that was actually better than what I was going to wear in the first place. The Lions saw Jared Devries, who was supposed to be a consistent factor in the DE rotation go on IR… the first of many. Also, while they drafted Deandre Levy, they didn’t get any “true MLB” in the draft… They did sign Larry Foote, and just like my outfit for the wedding, it has worked out perfectly. Other outfits got left in Michigan, and won’t be making the wedding, so to speak…
- After taking the trouble to get the Little Pink Lions all dolled up in matching dresses, and cute unique shoes they managed to keep nice, we realized that the littlest lion was already getting blisters just from walking to the wedding pavilion on the Disney Boardwalk, and had to stop and buy her a cute pair of Minnie Mouse shoes for the reception at the Polynesian Resort gift store. The Lions thought Buchanon and Henry would be able to make it through the season as their starting CB’s, but ended up signing William James (And others) as injuries mounted at CB and some players just weren’t fitting right. James has done well, all things considered, but you still would have rather not had to buy him if what you had would have worked in the first place. Too many shoes blistering way too quick in the secondary…
- While driving home, the aunt and uncle we were going to stay with in Georgia got the flu, along with all the cousins we set aside an extra day to visit. (They are all doing fine now) So instead, we decided to stop early and enjoy a hotel with a pool and hot tub, spending time with the family just relaxing and having fun. Hey, no one said all things that don’t go as planned are bad, did they? Aaron Brown, DeAndre Levy, Sammie Hill, and Jordan Dizon have all been bright spots among the young players that weren’t planned on to contribute early, but have really stepped up their game.
- After spending that nice day relaxing, we had “mechanical issues” which sent out front driver side wheel crashing under our vehicle as we were traveling near Dalton GA on Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, we didn’t hit anyone and got off to the side of the road. Two very helpful County Sheriffs got us to a hotel to stay the night, while our vehicle was towed to the local Ford dealer. They were totally awesome, and got us patched up and on the road again by Monday afternoon for minimal cost. (I seriously want to take a moment and thank the two Sheriffs (whose names I will insert when I can find their card) and Brooker Ford in Dalton, GA. They were just beyond awesome in helping make what could have been a hellish disaster as good as breaking down 700 miles from home could be.) Even though we totally broke down and thought our van was possibly done for good, it made it through and got us home with minimal further problems.
This last point has the most relevance in the world of the Lions, and life in general. The Lions went 0-16 after 8 horrendous years of Matt Millen. They were given up on as the bottom of the league. Yet, they have managed to get a team patched together despite the obstacles that the season and circumstances have thrown in the way. In just one season, Mayhew and Schwartz have managed to field a team that has won two games, could win one or two more, and is competitive most Sundays. Considering the wheels had all come off, we can’t expect them to get on the road smoothly to a championship by Monday afternoon, but they are limping along in the right direction for a change.
I’ve found that life seldom if ever goes totally as planned. In many cases, not even close. Sure, you can be depressed, or angry, or discouraged. Personally, I like to find the best in any situation and move forward with a smile on my face, and a laugh in my heart. Sometimes, the biggest “disasters” end up yielding the biggest opportunities, the most memorable times, the greatest of adventures. We can’t control the when the shoes don’t work, or the suits get left behind, or when the relatives get sick, or when the wireless doesn’t work, or when the wheels fall off the van — what we can do is make the best of what is there, and be thankful for what we have. Life is living, and football is supposed to be fun. So lets save the draft talk for the ifseason, and enjoy the adventure that is this Lions’ season as it plays out and see what thrilling game like the last second victory over the Browns the Lions will bring us next!! Even disaters can be exciting to watch, after all…