Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez preview the Lions’ game against the Bills. Recorded Dec. 13, 2018.
Carlos Monarrez and Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press

Let’s be honest.

We should look at being a Detroit Lions fan for what it is — an illness that can’t be cured.

Like some virus that gets in your bones and changes you forever.

Being a Lions fan will raise your blood pressure and leave you with an upset stomach.

It will give you a migraine headache, especially when you are holding season tickets and they trade Golden Tate.

It will leave you angry when this team loses games it should win — see, the 2018 schedule.

But most of all, it will crush your soul and leave you defeated — oh, for the last half century or so.

You wanna know the scary part? The symptoms can morph and change.

Right now, this illness can be found in two different forms.

One is delusion. Part of the fan base is excited because the Lions still have a mathematical chance to make the playoffs. I won’t go through all the things that have to happen but this miserable, boring 5-8 football team has a 4 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to the prognosticators at FiveThirtyEight. Still, these fans cling to hope. Like some old crusty gambler, sitting at a slot machine, pumping in nickels, hoping and praying for a miracle. Possible? Sure. Probable? Ah no. Stephen Curry has a better chance of landing on the moon.

The other part of the fan group is perpetually thinking about the future, like a bunch of explorers, stepping on boats, staring at the horizon and seeing nothing but possibility, hoping better days are ahead. These dreamers wish the Lions would tank and get a higher draft pick, assuming, of course, the Lions would nail the draft and one day get propelled into the elite.

At this point, I am contractually obligated to point out the obvious: This team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991 and has never been to the Super Bowl.

But I understand both points of view. I don’t blame the realists for wanting them to tank. This current team stinks and needs as much talent as possible.

But I also don’t blame the dreamers for wanting them to make the playoffs. When you invest that much energy in such a lousy franchise, without getting any love in return, you grab what you can grab.

But there is another group that I’m worried about.

The ones who are most vulnerable.

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Think of the children

So maybe, it’s time for an intervention.

For an entire fan base.

It’s too late to help the current fans. You have been infected for years. There’s no helping you. Listen, I don’t blame you for going to the games after you bought the tickets. You might as well go, drink some beer and scream your head off. 

But I’m thinking about the kids.

The ones who haven’t been infected yet.

I came to this realization the other day when I was driving to a game and saw a man and a boy walking down the sidewalk toward Ford Field. They were holding hands and looked giddy, both wearing Lions jerseys.

For a second I thought: Oh, man, that’s too freakin’ cute. 

That’s the sap in me.

I presume they were father and son. I figured there was a story waiting to be told. I imagined it was the child’s first game, because nobody walks into Ford Field looking that happy, not somebody who has had his heart ripped out a few times, as all Lions’ fans have.

I circled the block but couldn’t find them.

But the more I thought about it, the more I started to wonder: I’m all for being involved in your kids lives — it’s beyond necessary — but is this too much?

To put a Lions’ jersey on your child? 

To introduce this illness at such a young age?

I mean, think of the lifetime of damage you are doing. 

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Save them from misery

As parents, we expose our kids to things we love doing. Whatever it is.

Sports. Fishing. Hunting. Boating. Traveling. Broccoli.

OK. About the broccoli.

We do that only because our parents did that to us.

But in the same way, that is what happens when we introduce our kids to the Lions.

This a sickness that is passed down from generation to generation.

But it is preventable.

Kids today have so many other options. They could pick a different team. A different sport. Shoot, playing video games would probably be more healthy over the long term.

So as we enter this holiday season, maybe it’s time to think twice before getting that Lions jersey for your son or daughter.

Give them a Rams jersey.

Or even a Cleveland Browns jersey — yeah, that’s a fan base that’s been miserable, just like the Lions, but at least they have an exciting young quarterback.

Now remember, this league is built for parity, to make the Super Bowl attainable for all. The rules are structured to make the playoffs a giant revolving door, which spins almost everybody into the Super Bowl at some point, everybody but the Lions.

And you want to subject your kids to this?

To all this agony?

I know, in the past, some vowed to go “Lions free.”

But I never bought that.

Once you get this virus, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it.

So for those who want to tank — go for it. Root for losses.

For those who are dreaming about the playoffs — knock yourselves out. Dream away.

But I hope everybody can focus on something far more important.

End this cycle of frustration.

Save the children.

Don’t let them become Lions fans.

Contact Jeff Seidel: Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to


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