Not the original Pocahontas:
This week is Thanksgiving week in the US. Of all the crappy holidays/events the US keeps exporting (Halloween, Mothers/Fathers/Secretaries Day, ‘Santa Claus’ in his Coca-Cola inspired red and white fatsuit) the only one that SHOULD be taken up elsewhere is Thanksgiving. It’s essentially an all-day roast turkey and beer pigout with zero religious overtones and not having to remember to buy anyone presents.So far, so brilliant. But then its ALWAYS on a Thursday, so no-one works Friday either. That’s the genius right there.
AND there are always at least two football games to watch as you feel your colon going into spasm. Ok, so it celebrates the Pilgrims sharing food with the American Indian they were about to decimate with influenza and the repeater rifle, but then the original Waitangi Day was no picnic either. Now pass the mashed potatoes will ya?
Every year the two regular host teams on Thanksgiving are the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions. Dallas are always a soap opera (in fact in the 80’s it WAS a soap opera) but this year they are nothing compared to the Shakespearean tragedy of the 2008 Detroit Lions.
Welcome to Detroit:
A little background. Detroit is a shithole.
I woke up there once and thought they’d dropped the Bomb overnight. Most of it is tired, industrially worn out and morbidly poor in the way that only rusty old shipyards and post-apocalypse sci-fi movies are. You can buy a decent inner-city house there for $1000. Its primary industry, car making, is minutes away from catastrophic bankruptcy. The mayor was just convicted on fraud and perjury charges. It’s bitterly, awfully cold most of the year. For the city’s poor (as many white as black) there have always been only two ways to escape: music and sports. Musically, Detroit has given us Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Madonna, Eminem and the entire genre of techno (which was invented by poor black people. This may come as news to certain types in Germany and Holland).
With sports, the Detroit Red Wings are one of the greatest ice hockey franchises of all time, the Pistons always play hard and angry, but it’s their football team, the Lions, that they truly revere. And the Lions usually suck. And this year, they suck to record setting levels.
Can you imagine the horror of living in Detroit in 2008 and being a LIONS fan? They are the worst team in the NFL, and are now only 5 games from being the worst team in the HISTORY of the NFL. The team’s General Manager since 2000 Matt Millen was finally fired this year after some of the worst decisions ever made in professional sports (yes, even worse than proven sexual harasser Isaiah Thomas in the NBA). While the fans literally rioted with joy at his dismissal, this has not improved things.
Their quarterback is now the broken down Daunte Cupepper. Three weeks ago he was retired from the game, sitting on his couch. The coach, excitable Rod Marinelli yelled at reporters this week: ‘I’m not 0-11. Don’t tell me I’m 0-11. YOU are 0-11’. Yep, that makes no sense.
The 2008 Detroit Lions. Absolutely the biggest Turkey this Thanksgiving.
One of these is the worst thing to ever happen to Detroit:
INTERESTING GAMES THIS WEEK:
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS v TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Drew Brees, QB of the Saints, is on pace with Arizona’s Kurt Warner to break Dan (the man) Marino’s 25 year old record for most passing yards in a season. The Saints just thumped the resurgent Packers. The Bucs are no pushover though, and are likely to win their division. This will be a shootout.
NEW YORK GIANTS v WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Think about this: the Manning brothers (Eli and Peyton) have both led teams that won Superbowls. That is the equivalent of two brothers being All Black captains one after the other and both winning World Cups. That’s some family. Eli will lead the Giants to a win against a strong Redskins team.
In the ’90s the Detroit Lions had one saving grace: one of the greatest runners to play the game, Barry Sanders. Small, intense, aloof, he was spectacular on the field and a cipher off it. In 1998 he abruptly decided to retire, with no reason given. No career on sports TV, no becoming an actor or celebrity, just GONE.
Here’s a great highlight film, that even though it tries, doesn’t completely capture the wonder and majesty of a Sanders’ run.
BEST HOLIDAY READING:
“Hi. I’m Charles Haley. Say hello to my little friend….”
– Mark Tierney