Monday, November 14, 2011

Vegas, Football, and Family

I spent the weekend in Vegas with the family. It was an excellent trip. We ate well, we saw a fabulous show (side note: if you're a fan of The Beatles, stop what you're doing now, and go see Cirque de Soleil's "Love"  immediately) and spent valuable time with loved ones. 

It was this family that instilled this Lions fandom in me. Dating back to the Silverdome days, I spent my Sundays in Pontiac screaming and yelling with my parents at my side. Since then, I have moved to California and they migrated south to the Sunshine State. Our Lions experiences together has been limited to them reading this blog and occasional Skype conversations about the team. 

Until last year.

My parents generously came out to visit me for the opening weekend of the 2010 season. Together once again, we watched the Lions take on the Bears in Chicago. We watched, we yelled, we screamed. Then "The Process" happened and I melted down. I stormed out of my friends' house, leaving my parents alone with people they had met three hours ago. Eventually I came back, tail between legs, and drove my parents to the airport, mostly silent except for the occasional apology. I made an ass of myself and felt terrible about it for months.

Sunday, we watched our first game together since that day, looking to erase the memories of last year. This was the perfect opportunity: again, it was against the Bears, in Chicago. But this time, we had a secret weapon: we were in the city of eternal luck, in a very impressive watching room at the Stratosphere, and we were sporting a 6-2 team who had already beaten the Bears once this season. We were all riding the intoxicating high of Vegas and even placed money on the Lions to make the experience complete. When the Saints/Falcons game went long and the television operators scrambled to find the Lions game, I sensed an impending Doom. When the game finally appeared on the screen in front of us, just in time to watch Nate Burleson commit the Lions' second turnover of the quarter, the Doom was confirmed. 

But we stuck through it. We had been through this before with the Cowboys and Vikings. By the end of the first half, we had the feeling that a comeback was more than possible. After the Bears started the second half with a three-and-out, I foolishly turned to my father and uttered, "Couldn't have been a better start to the second half." 

The universe responded two plays later with the first of two Matthew Stafford pick-sixes. After the second, I stormed out of the room in an all-too-familiar fashion, leaving my jacket, obsolete bets and dignity at the table where my dad now sat alone. The next 10-20 minutes were spent pacing the casino floor like a mad-man. I wouldn't be surprised if I drew the attention of security, as it must have looked like I was planning to commit awful crimes to the dealer wearing a Matt Forte jersey. After contemplating throwing all my money away on a single blackjack hand, I collected myself, sat at the bar and ordered an eight dollar rum and coke.

Minutes later, my father joined my side. We silently shared a drink as our Lions were mauled on a distant television. Slowly, the rest of my family joined my side and we chatted solemnly about anything other than football. In the distance, the world was burning to the ground, but we wouldn't let the moment ruin another cross-country trip. And while we may have lost some money and pride that afternoon, that moment we shared at the bar was eternally priceless.

Actual analysis coming later today...

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