Every great story has a villain-someone or something that must wear the black hat.
Henry Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life, the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz or the most famous character to don the black cap, Darth Vader from Star Wars, all represented the antagonist.
I was never a big Star Wars guy, but you cannot deny the unequaled baritone offerings of Michigan man James Earl Jones.
The Detroit Lions have been thrust into that role for Roger Goodell’s NFL this season and rather than refuting the characterization, the Lions need to embrace it because the train has already left the station.
The first half of the season is littered with both on-the-field and off-the-field incidents. Ndamukong Suh’s $20,000 preseason QB initiation of Andy Dalton, the Schwartz/Harbaugh cha-cha, false accusations of taunting Matt Ryan and the newest edition of this periodical: Tebowing and Other Character Assassinations of a Deity.
Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports quoted an anonymous player slamming the savior Tim Tebow and his performance. The national media ran with the postgame comments that subsequently garnered national attention on TV and radio.
Do you think this the first time there was some locker-room chatter minimizing the opposition? If so, I’m certain you’re waiting for shipment of your Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries commemorative wedding plate.
The fact is the Lions will be highlighted for any less-than-angelic performance for the remainder of the season, if not further. Personally, to quote Vince Vaughn from Wedding Crashers, “You know what Father? I dig it!”
The Lions for years suffered through the hazing of Jay Leno, David Letterman or any other talking head looking for a cheap laugh. Now the tables are turned and the Lions defense (sixth-ranked at 18.4 points per game) are now at minimum respected and quite possibly feared.
Yes, feared. Ndamukong Suh requested a meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell during his bye week. While other players hopped the first flight for tropical breezes and fruity drinks, Suh and his defiant bravado headed to the Big Apple for a PowerPoint pow-wow with the Commish to define the proverbial line between acceptable and unacceptable play.
Some are now suggesting the Lions are too aggressive and their swagger is embarrassing. Really? That’s like a college grad refusing money from grandma because he doesn’t like the card. Take the money, or in this case-wear the hat.
If the Lions become a hated team, it should be viewed as nothing else but complimentary.
When you are perceived as demure and a non-threat, you’re a cute little story that will eventually go away. When you become feared and hated, people should anticipate a cosmic shift on the horizon.
The great teams have all taken this road-from lovable to despised. The New England Patriots, Chicago Bulls and Detroit Red Wings all have experienced the different stages of the national spotlight, ascending from basement dwellers to perennial champions.
I’m not suggesting the Lions get jewelers lined up to present their Super Bowl ring designs, but I am saying they are on the right track.
We are only halfway through a singular season and the Lions will not receive a banner or ticker-tape parade for finishing above .500 before the first Snickers of Halloween was handed out, but the image the Lions have created is perfect for the no-nonsense, hardworking fans of Detroit.
If nothing else, they are representing the fans that are responsible for their well-deserved lifestyle-a far cry from the elected representatives that make decisions for the masses in Washington D.C., right?
There may be a Honolulu blue and silver lining to the Lions’ typecast. My favorite black hats of all time, Vito and Michael Corleone of Godfather fame, were endearing villains as they maintained their family and prowess with vigilant conviction and uncompromising intimidation.
Perhaps this Lions team can make their final eight (or perhaps 12) opponents an offer they cannot refuse while charming the NFL and its fans with black-hat performances reminiscent of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.