Thursday, January 5, 2017

Playoff Fever

The major question for me leading up to this weekend is whether or not I'm going to allow myself to feel. Do I go all in and open myself up for yet another Lions playoff disappointment, knowing full well that the odds of getting hurt again are enormously high? I obviously already know the answer, but pretending that it's even a choice to begin with--and that I might have the sufficient willpower to watch a Lions game without the unhealthy side effect of getting emotionally sucked in--is a fun little exercise to help pass the time between now and Saturday night.

I saw a refrigerator magnet once that had a bunch of 'carpe diem' type motivational slogans on it, and one of them was to "love like you've never been hurt".  Maybe there actually are some situations in life where that's a good idea, but I feel like a much more useful refrigerator magnet for me right now would read, "Love like you haven't won a road playoff game in 60 years; use your best judgment and try to chill out a little bit."

I'd love to use my best judgment and be able to tune in on Saturday night for enjoyment only and with a little bit of perspective. Can't I just enjoy the fact that the Lions somehow scraped a playoff spot out of what probably should have been a 3-13 season? That Matthew Stafford turned into John Elway for about three months back there? That even a 3 game losing streak to finish the regular season didn't wreck their playoff hopes? That I've never seen the Lions win a single playoff game, and have still managed to make it to being a functioning and reasonably well adjusted quasi-adult?

Me and Pops went to the home finale against the Packers the other night. A little over a month ago, all the stars were aligning and I really thought that this could finally be the moment. After 23 years of being terrorized by the Packers, a perfect chance to turn the tables. Finally a chance at winning a division title, and I was back in Michigan, and in the building for the biggest game in Ford Field's short history--it's not much of a stretch to suggest that it probably would have been one of the top 5 experiences of my life to this point had the Lions pulled it off. Despite how gutting it was to see if all fall apart in the second half last week, sneaking into the playoffs still gives one more chance this week to have what has so far been a zero-in-a-lifetime Lions moment. A chance at one more piece of Stafford magic in a season where there has been plenty.

Thinking logically, what reason should I have to believe there's a true upset chance at Seattle? I haven't yet heard a single person predict a Lions win, all of the local coverage has been either pessimistic or blatant mocking (From the Free Press: the last time the Lions won a road playoff game…gas was 24 cents a gallon…the Mackinac Bridge was one month old). An overachieving team on the way down against an underachieving team that's also on the way down, but in a stadium where they're nearly unbeatable, especially in playoff games. For another 44 hours or so, thinking about this game logically will still be an option.

After that, I know the routine. Playoff fever kicks in, and time to love like I've never been hurt.

Seahawks 18