'About A Half A Mile From Heaven You Drop Me Back Onto this Cold Cold World' -- Stevie Wonder Song

January 28, 2024, 10:50 PM by  Allan Lengel

Lions celebrate after a touchdown in the first half.

It may be a bit  dramatic to quote Stevie Wonder's song, "Rocket Love," but Detroit Lions fans were about a half a mile from sports heaven -- the Super Bowl --  until the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night dropped us back onto this cold cold world of defeat. 

It was sad and upsetting seeing the Lions go from super team in the first half of the game to just an Ok team the second half in their 34-31 loss. To be honest, though, while I loved watching the games all season, and the playoffs in particular, there was such an intensity that I'm almost relieved it's over. I can breath again.

Yes, sad, but relieved.

All week I had been trying to imagine going to a Super Bowl party where the Lions were actually playing. It seemed so foreign, yet there were almost moments of giddiness.

However disappointing the outcome was, it was an amazing season watching Coach Dan Campbell and quarterback Jared Goff become beloved figures in Detroit. And what the heck, Sheila Ford Hamp made the Ford family beloved owners of a team that had been pathetic for so long.

All these years I refused to ever wear Lions gear. I just couldn't. I felt a certain shame investing much emotion in the team that let us down year after year.  

That changed, really beginning in the second half of last season when the Lions started to show promise. 

It was great this year seeing the city and state unite during a time of great divisiveness. I imagined each week Republicans and Democrats, Blacks, whites and Asians, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Arabs, Chaldeans, Hindus, wealthy and low income, suburbanites and urbanites and folks in rural Michigan, watching the same games, all united, all believing in the same team. 

Detroiters have been starving for a winning team for so long. The Tigers and Pistons have sucked for many years now. The Red Wings are starting to show some signs of hope. And I'm actually told the Tigers might show some marked improvement this season (The Pistons are hopeless, at least for now.)

It has been so long since a team in this city has been beloved. And that love has gone beyond Michigan.

The nation took notice and rooted along with us. Ex-NBA star and TV personality Charles Barkley the past week on his CNN show declared his "man crush" on Dan Campbell.

During the last couple games, I started getting texts from friends all around the country saying "Go Lions!" The world was watching and Detroit fans beamed with pride.

It really is the beginning. The team finally has a first-rate management. We might lose a coach or two, and that will be unfortunate. But with a couple good draft choices, the Lions may be tough to beat next year.

Looking forward to next season.

And who knows, you just might spot me wearing a Lions' hat. 

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