By: Eric Thomas
I gotta go with Dom Raiola on this one. The Thanksgiving Classic just doesn’t have the same ring to it as it used to.
I suppose we should explain to Dom, that the past decade has been the worst. We used to say, “The Lions are bad but they always win on Thanksgiving.” It was a tradition. They beat teams they had no business beating because of the old Turkey Day magic.
Lately, it’s looked more like a Saw movie. The game against the Falcons resulted in the Steve Mariucci getting fired. The Packers have sliced and diced the Lions in several Thanksgiving meetings. Don’t even bring up the Titans game in 2008. Peyton Manning.
At what point have we had enough? It’s perfectly legal to have the parade and not the game. The Lions will still get all 16 games. Why do we clutch the first game on Thanksgiving like Golem, acting as though it would be some kind of tragedy if it got pulled from our clutches? It’s an annual occasion where the Lions get embarrassed on national television, and yes I know it’s a defeatist attitude but it’s the truth.
The fond memories are now just pictures of photographs. The past decade has been pretty dour for Lions fans in general, but I can’t get fired up about keeping the Turkey Day tradition marching forward. I now have more bad memories of the Thanksgiving Day game than good ones, and the bad ones are all recent. Even when the Lions put a good team on the field last year, they still lost on Thanksgiving.
This isn’t to say that I want the Lions banned from Turkey Day forever. But let’s let the rest of the league have a shot at it. Forever it will be written in stone that the Thanksgiving Classic tradition started in Detroit and that’s good enough for me. When the Lions get the ability to host another one, maybe then there will be fond memories of Barry Sanders, and the memories of getting chain sawed on national television will fade into background. You tend to remember the good times, right?
So when Dom Raiola says that he doesn’t feel good about playing on Thanksgiving, we should take pause. One of the leaders on the team hates playing on Thanksgiving. Ask yourself: Do you really like watching on Thanksgiving?
It’s normal to feel that way. A decade of awful can ruin any tradition. The Lions are 2-12 in since 2000 and that’s amazing for a league that was designed for parity. That’s TEN recent Thanksgivings where you sat down for stuffing bummed out. Even the games that they didn’t have a chance in (Titans 2008 was especially bad for me); you still spend the rest of the day sad because the Lions lost. Wouldn’t you like to have the Pumpkin Pie with a side of optimism, knowing your team doesn’t play until Sunday? Wouldn’t you like to watch football rather than have your favorite team play and get crushed?
It would be nice. Even if they win on Thursday, I am not sure that the Thanksgiving magic will feel like its resurrected. The Thanksgiving Day game has been a gut punch for the last ten years. It might take a while before I start feeling good after a decade of getting disappointed.