Sunday, September 14, Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a nice, cool, Sunday in the Queen City- great day for some good 'ol American football. I have been living in North Carolina for the past six years, the last four in Charlotte. Today, my home team, the Detroit Lions, play the Carolina Panthers. I have been super excited about this game since the Panthers and Lions released their schedules late spring.
My very first Panthers game was last year, when they played and crushed the New York Giants 38-0; I was hyped, sporting my Lions tank top, hanging with my girl Sheila, also from The D. Lions blood has flowed through my veins for twenty-five years...that's a quarter of a century! Up until January of this year, I had never worn or owned any other pro football team paraphernalia, ever!
In December 2013, I lost a bet to a friend. The Lions with a winning record in their division, started to lose games and dropped in their ranking when they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were struggling to stay alive last season. The Panthers played the Jaguars the week after the Lions. I was being facetious.."The Bet" was.. should the Panthers win against the Jaguars, I would purchase a Panther something, and should Michigan State win The Rose Bowl vs Stanford, my friend would purchase a Michigan State something. The loser would wear the item and take a photo. Well, I lost and bought a Panthers hat. He lost and bought two Michigan State shirts (one for me...too sweet!). As the Lions spiraled from a winning streak to a losing one, my friend, clearly a Panther man, tried to recruit me into Panther Nation. His argument was for me to at least support them seeing I now live in Charlotte. His argument was well made, understood, considered and implemented.
It wasn't until a few weeks ago that friction started between us. As the Panthers vs Lions game drew closer, I grew anxious. I made my mind up that I didn't care who won. I would support both teams- yeah, I know that's straddling the fence but I was going to be okay with it either way, lol. Then I decided to support the Panthers fully, gear and all. To show allegiance to my new home team and to someone that supports me at all times. I was crushed when my show of support was criticized and disbelieved [enter friction here]. I couldn't even sit where I was initially sitting. With an emotional blow to my heart, I graciously accepted my other seats and let it be.
After the blow, and being asked over and over by my friends who I was rooting for, I started to agonize over my support and gear, even asking my NC family (Nina & Allen) for help. I felt torn between two teams, two cities that I love, and found myself questioning my friend's actions and his faith in my support... what I had felt good about initially, started to give me anxiety attacks as the game approached. I finally decided to revert back to my initial plan and show support for both teams, whew!
Yeah! Game Day is finally here!! I threw on my Panthers shirt and my Lions hat- Panthers blue and Lions blue clashed a bit, but hey, blue is blue and I am down for a good game. I expected nothing short of a good game!
Instead what I witnessed was a terrible game...for the Lions anyway! A feeling of unease started twirling in my gut. Though I went in with the mindset of not choosing sides, that I'd be good with whatever, and sincerely happy for whomever wins; I did not expect the Lions to play so poorly. The bad plays started to make me nauseous. I found myself clapping for Carolina and wanting to cry for Detroit. I started praying a familiar prayer- Dear sport gods, why must we go thru this? Why must we (Lions fans) be subjected to such debacles year after year. The Lions were not ready and clearly unprepared for the Panthers defense. I wasn't mad that Carolina was winning, I was frustrated and perturbed with how poorly the Lions were playing. The Lions, once again, showed they were stuck, high on their egos coming off off their Monday Night game win against the Giants.
The Lions may have a different look and a different coach, but under that Lions blue and silver armor flows the same Lions blue blood of games past...bring you up, only to let you down.
It was a bittersweet day in the Queen City. I never knew Charlotte had so many Lions fans. They were out in full force, representing hard, doing what they've done forever- win, lose, or draw, they still showed up, showed out, and showed love, even after the loss.
Don't get it twisted, I am very proud and happy for the Panthers!! They have been working hard for a couple of weeks preparing for the Lions, their defense and stopping Calvin Johnson aka Megatron, and it showed! It was a well executed game by the Panthers, and though I didn't mind the win at all, it honestly pained me to watch the Lions take a beating. I was ready and mentally prepared for a good game; but I wasn't ready or mentally prepared for a piss poor performance or an @$$ whoopin'...or what I felt...the team spirit of a ghost Lions past.
Someone once said, "Proper Preperation Prevents Piss Poor Performance"...The Lions need this quote inked in Lions blue on everything they have.
On Any Given Sunday, you will win some and you will lose some, but you need to come to play!
Great game Panthers!!! #KeepPounding