There’s a common theme amongst football fans. It all comes down to the result of a wildcard playoff game between two teams that weren’t supposed to make it within sniffing distance of the postseason. The result of that game? NFL fans, by and large, shouting from the rooftops that the Detroit Lions got screwed in their loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Who’s to blame for screwing Detroit? Some immediately pointed their fingers at the evil authority figure they blame — ususally with good reason — for the shortcomings of the product on and off the field of play. All of us likely have a few friends who believe that when he’s not busy mishandling already-disastrous PR situations, he spends his free time playing favorites under the guise of what’s “best for business”.
Others are focusing the weight of the blame not on league officials, but the “third team” on the field. The guys in the black and white uniforms. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone in zebra stripes made a big, big mistake on a big, big stage. It also would be far from the first time that we have seen the integrity of a referee, or group thereof, compromised. Were the refs in with the Dallas Cowboys? Were they getting direct instructions from higher-ups? Did they just get their bell rung on a bad ref bump, miss Detroit on top for the cover, and wake up after Dallas scored on a run-in? Did the real ref’s evil twin sneak into the stripes to make the ill-fated call?
Or, at the end of the day, did the Detroit Lions screw the Detroit Lions? Did they fall to their own inability to capitalize on the calls they did get, and their own talents? Did they fail to deliver for their many fans? Did they fail to take the gameplan, laid out by coaches and agents before heading out into a sold out stadium, and prove themselves to be more than a collection of mere B + players?
The odds are, we’ll never know for sure. The allegedly-screwed parties are likely to dance around the issue rather than point fingers, to avoid the arguably-obvious repercussions of such accusations … as they should. For a star player to blame the evil authority or poor officiating is not only a crybaby move, but a way to guarantee that their entire legacy will be that of someone who lost and then cast blame. They can go out there and call themselves the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be…and hell, maybe they are. But if they use their breath to complain about how they were deprived the opportunity to prove it, instead of just biding their time and proving it, well…all they’ll be remembered for is the tantrum.
But this doesn’t have to be the end of the road for the Lions. It could be the catalyst that skyrockets them to the top.
They can move past being B+ players, by not crying foul, talking about how they were wronged, or how complaining about someone else is raising the championship that is rightly theirs. In the meantime, they should call the merch team. and print up a lot of extra jerseys, hats, trading cards… everything their suddenly-expanded fan base is going to be looking for, after what felt like a year-long “outta nowhere” performance. No one expected them to rise to the top, but they did. Now they need to capitalize on it. Get their star players booked for interviews on TV, online, in magazines. Play themselves up as the comeback story they genuinely are. Get their fans ready for their return. Come back to a sold out building, full of the loudest fans they’ve ever performed in front of.
They’re David. Everyone else is Goliath. There’s only one way this ends. They’ll go through a lot to get there. They’ll have to win back the fans who feel like they let them down, when they failed the first time around, and they’ll need to overcome the evil authority figures, be willing to fight their way back to the top, whether the powers that be want up there or not.
They’ll make it past those same mid-level opponents they beat the first time to make it back to the final boss. They’ll have the fight of their collective lives, as they fight to survive. Goliath needs to prove it’s not a fluke. Goliath can’t lose to David. It’s an embarrassment. But that’s not their problem.
They won’t cry about the apparent screwjob, even if they DID get screwed. And in the end, they’ll be better off for it. Their fans won’t spent the rest of their lives wondering if they could have made it, if they could have been number one, if they could have been champion. What will remember is remember the comeback, the way they fought for what they deserved… for what they PROVED they deserve. That they are not a B+ players, but a team of all-stars who rose to the top, when absolutely nobody wanted them there, who got there without pointing fingers.