Welcome to the A”Pack”olypse ….or at least signs that it may be approaching.
In what I hope will become a new weekly feature here at AllGreenBayPackers.com, I will take a look at something in the NFL that is (sometimes somewhat) Packer related that may be a sign that end times may be upon us or that some kind of all hell is about to break loose.
The inaugural topic: the Detroit Lions and their 5-0 start.
I can’t believe I didn’t see a big red line under that sentence. The fact that the Lions are undefeated should not compute. Congrats Microsoft, you built a much smarter word processor than I thought.
Anyways, here’s the odd part: I am happy for the Detroit Lions. I mean how could you not be?
The ownership and former management regime crapped on the fan base for years. The organization, once a proud one with the great Barry Sanders running the ball, became a punch line for futility and incompetence. Throw in the economic recession that devastated the Detroit area and a 0-16 season and things had hit rock bottom.
Today the economy is still on shaky ground but things no doubt look better for the auto industry that is the blood of Detroit’s economy. The Lions themselves are symbolic of the city’s rise from the ashes.
After that disastrous 0-16 season in 2008, the ownership did what fans had been begging for years and fired general Matt “How the hell did he get a job in TV?” Millen and coach Rod Marinelli. In came coach Jim Schwartz, the former defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, and new GM Martin Mayhew who was promoted internally. They drafted Matthew Stafford with the first pick in 2009 to complement the talented but poorly utilized Calvin Johnson who was drafted by Millen in 2007.
Since then, the Lions have slowly clawed (pun not intended) their way out of the NFL basement. Last season, they finished the season on a four game winning streak (including one against the Packers) giving their fans hope for 2011. Stafford finally has been able to remain healthy, and his chemistry with Johnson along with his superb leadership skills (winning a game a couple years back with a separated shoulder!) have tied the Lions for first place in the NFC North alongside the defending champion Packers.
If the Packers were tied with the Bears or Vikings, we’d be arguing with their fans constantly. For some reason, it just doesn’t feel right with the Lions. They deserve this after all they’ve been through.
I’ll even come out and say it: if for some reason the Packers don’t win the NFC North, I want the Lions to do it. If the Packers can’t go to the Super Bowl, I hope the Lions do.
Make no mistake: I want the Packers to wipe the floor with their divisional rivals, but should fate decide otherwise, then I hope the Lions go all the way. Call me Judas, but I think it’s only the right thing to do.
Now, if the Lions enjoy a nice run over a few years here, things will change. We will despise them like we do the Bears and Vikings. We will get in Twitter shouting matches with them just like with the other two teams.
But for 2011 at least, it’s different. The Lions and Packers are both built to dominate this division for years. The same can’t be said for Chicago and Minnesota. It’s a strong possibility we will end up hating Detroit too.
But not this year.
How can you not like Matthew Stafford? Yes, he’s been injured a fair amount of times but the guy can throw and is an incredible leader. Not to mention he is a class act off the field.
Bottom line: let’s enjoy the battle between the Packers and Lions this year. It’s been a long time coming. There is nothing wrong with feeling good for a divisional rival with a passionate fan base that was nearly beaten into oblivion by ownership and management.
I can’t wait for Thanksgiving. Packers/Lions at Ford Field. Perhaps even a battle of two 10-0 teams.
Honestly, I hope to see it. It would be fitting.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke