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Former Detroit Lions Running Back Barry Sanders (hey, Uncle Barry) gave a juicy little soundbite to a reporter during a celebrity golf scramble recently.
Red Wings fans may have something to say about Sanders’ assertion, but I understand the sentiment. When football is winning, it feels like the whole town is winning. That goes for every city with an NFL franchise, which is really a testament to the product itself.
But it feels like Detroit’s issues run deeper than a coaching carousel or an 0-16 season. The city has been America’s punching bag my entire life. And before the crown jewel of Michigan starts pumping out hate mail, I’m talking about perception here. The fact that Detroit teams have actually won a few modern championships (Wings 4x, Pistons 3x) seems to hurt their case more than help it: even with some winning pedigree, the city still feels like a losing poker hand.
It’s freezing cold, its aerial shots look like Bush-era Baghdad, it’s governed by Gretchen Whitmer. Just bone-chilling all around.
And the backbone of all this agony? The Detroit Lions—once the cock of the walk in muscle car Motor City—who haven’t won a ring since the year my own father was born.
Sure, tortured fanbases exist in all shapes and sizes across the country, but to go from the penthouse to the outhouse, all the while freezing your balls off and getting patronized by the COVID queen herself, is a real slap in the face. The city that once ruled the road can’t even change the oil on their own franchise anymore.
So while I wholeheartedly agree with Uncle Barry that Detroit is better when football is winning, these good American folks need more than a title; they need a change of scenery.
When I lived in Nashville, I used to joke that our borders should be closed because of all the Northerners migrating down south to Music City. I may lift the ban for a few Detroit natives, though, after writing this depressing column. Nobody deserves that much heartbreak in return for two beautiful summer months a year.
Just promise me you’ll leave your Whitmer vote in the frozen tundra.