Like the poor homeless orphan, looking into the window of the fancy restaraunt wondering what could be… The High School student that graduates, only to see his teammates win the State Championship the next year – celebrating with their old friends, but still not a part of the glory. The band member that finally has to call it quits, only to have the group get famous right after he’s gone – going from what could have been to a footnote in the biography — an obscure bit of trivia knowledge for the most hard core fans.
As the final cuts loom, there will be many players who get the dreaded visit from “the Turk” to collect their playbook and make their release from the team official. They have been through OTA’s for most, training camp, workouts, conditioning…for months, the training camp roster has grown close — only to have some of those guys not be invited to the final party. Whether the team does good or bad this season, most of those guys will be watching from somewhere else — for some of them, it will be their couch on Sundays — the dream over.
However, two guys that I feel for most weren’t cut. The Turk hasn’t called them yet — rather, injuries and age finally took their toll. They didn’t just have one training camp — or two our three — but more than ten years spent sweating, fighting, pounding, getting pounded — playing heart and soul for a team that was destined to go down in history for all the wrong reasons. After all of this trial and tribulation, the same hard nosed dedicated play that endeared them to fans took its toll — and took them out of the game.
The Lions are finally moving in a positive direction — even the national media has started covering the Lions as a team rather than a long-running gag in a some demented tragic farce. But they will be on the outside, looking in. Their invitation no longer valid. The plane is taking off without them. Yet, for us fans they will always be Lions — they guys we could root for through the worst of times because unlike most of the players we saw come through they earned it.
For Casey Fitzsimmons, he is already done. For Jared Devries a second consecutive season on IR signals the end is also near for him as well. They were two players who were loyal and dedicated to the team and the fans — and we were dedicated to them. The new young guys can look back at what they did as an example of pure effort and dedication — because for a decade on a team that seemed not to belong in the big leagues these two men were true professionals.
You may not be with the team, but your unbroken spirit lives on in the strength of the team today — and in the hearts of the fans.