By Eric Thomas
The Lions have the latest in their endless series of statement games against the Bears on Sunday. Fans will, as usual, spend their afternoon with toes curled on the edge of oblivion, not sure if this team is going to the Superbowl or collapse into an 0-16 record—an especially amazing feat because they’ve won two games.
A few weeks ago, Tony Dungy opened his mouth and named our pain. Dungy is a native of Jackson, and spent his early years watching the team. “SOL,” he said on national television, “Same old Lions.” He’s clearly not the first one to boil it down to an acronym, but this time Tony Dungy said it, and it was on TV, so it carried some extra resonance. Now you hear it on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, radio, TV and presumably CB receivers if you still use those things to find Smokeys. The acronym that Lions fans were searching for was handed to them by a coach who won a Superbowl.
What’s in an acronym? For Lions fans, the newly re-christened “SOL©” brings to mind a waterfall of pain—a churning cauldron of nightmarish sadness from twenty point losses, taking the wind, and getting tackled in bounds as the clock expires. We’ve got a shiny new label for Sundays spent wondering why we continue to put ourselves through this torment. Can any of us justify it? If someone asked you, can you explain why you turn on the TV at kickoff every time?
The people who claim to not be fans are the saddest. They’ve abandoned the Lions and claim loudly that they can no longer be swayed by the good and bad of what happens. These people are liars, of course. They’re like the guys in high school who claim that they don’t like a girl because she doesn’t like him back. He’s just trying to preserve his dignity, and making himself look worse instead.
The question needs to be asked: When you say, “SOL©,” which is the “same” you’re speaking of? If you’re talking about the 80s and 90s, you remember a team that was known nationally as streaky. Never a contender; always in the mix. They’d beat the Superbowl Champion Cowboys on Monday Night Football and lose the next game to the Tampa Bay Bucs in their Creamsicle uniforms by thirty.
Wasn’t the ghost of those Lions vanquished under Matt Millen? If we could claim anything from that dirty decade, can’t we say that the Same Old Lions© have been exorcised from existence? The Lions were always known for being a middling team before Matt Millen walked in—and they were transformed into an abomination driven by megalomaniacal walrus completely convinced of his own genius even though there has never been any evidence of its existence? When he burned down team, didn’t the Same Old Lions© go with it?
The people in Allen Park don’t deserve it. Ndomukong Suh and Matt Stafford don’t owe us an explanation for Wayne Fontes and Bobby Ross. When we say SOL©, we pin the sins of others on the guys that never earned this particular ire.
Let’s calm down on the whole SOL© thing. It’s not helping anyone.