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NFC North polygamy: Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan politely asks for permission to become a Chicago Bears backer

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Today was a day of mixed, confusing emotions.

For Bears fans, there was the exhilarating comeback victory over the Detroit Lions that was tempered by the loss of Kyle Orton.

For me, there was the oddly awkward match-up between the team I grew up with and the team I'd like to adopt. Okay, maybe it's not so hard to bail on the Detroit Lions, one of the most embarassing franchises sports has ever tried to hide from its new girlfriend. Still, manning our wildy entertaining live chat this afternoon, I couldn't help but get that awkward feeling in the pit of my stomach.

barrysanders.jpgSure, the Bears have ingratiated themselves into my heart with their dramatic ways this season. But they'll never occupy that special place reserved for the Lions. Growing up, I got to watch Barry Sanders every Sunday. This undoubtedly fueled my passion for sports in the same way Michael Jordan ignited the fury here in Chicago. Sanders is hands-down the most entertaining athlete to watch I've ever seen.

The Lions?

Not so spectacular.

Still, I stuck with them through the cartoonish antics of Wayne Fontes, the fumble stylings of Dave Kreig and the pseudo-fued between Johnny Morton and Jay Leno. I stuck with them when they selected wide receivers in the first round of the 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007 NFL drafts. I stuck with them when Marty Mornhinweg opted to kickoff instead of take the ball in an overtime loss to the Bears.

Most disturbingly, I've stuck with them while they've gone 31-87 since Matt Millen took over in 2001.

Today, however, I really contemplated what I'm getting out of this relationship. Their games are rarely televised in Chicago, they'll be lucky to win three games this year and there's a perfectly viable football team in the city I call home. So, wouldn't it make more sense for me to switch my allegiances to the Bears?

When Bill Simmons published his rules for being a fan, the one I felt most strongly about was the sham that is team polygamy. But, like Peyton Manning approaching the line of scrimmage, I'm calling an audible.

I wish to be a Bears fan now, if they'll have me. If I need to prove myself, I will.

I've always liked Soldier Field. Obviously more before it mated with a spaceship, but still now. On trips down here as a child I realized what a beautiful setting it made, one that was in stark contrast to the Pontiac Silverdome.

I know your quarterbacking pain. Every now and again there will be a list of Bears quarterbacks during the past 15 years that makes the rounds and you'll invariably hear your co-workers laughing about the obscure names on it. I know this game, Chicago. The Lions have employed an unremarkable stable of quarterbacks that includes names like Andre Ware, Ty Detmer and the aforementioned Dave Krieg during the same time period.

I love teams that have stout defense and a reliable running game as the foundation on which they are built. Or, I think I would -- if given the chance to enjoy it. The Lance Briggs' led defensive unit and Matt Forte powered ground attack may not completely qualify, but it's a start.

I love Devin Hester, or maybe just the idea of Devin Hester. One unquantifiable game
devinhester.jpg changer that has the capacity to do things you've never seen before every time he touches the ball. I love Kyle Orton, an oft-maligned game manager that has quietly led a team with low preseason expectations into first place in the NFC North halfway through the year.

Most importantly, I see what it means to be a Bears fan. To honor Ditka. To always believe you have it bad, when a team in your own division self-destructs to levels rarely reached. To refuse to admit Brett Favre's existence. To drink on the El at 9 a.m. on the way to the game. Or to wear your brand new Matt Forte jersey to work on casual Friday, and a million other nuances I haven't learned yet.

And I've seen what it's like when a whole city gets behind a team, putting baseball ties aside to back a storied franchise through thick and thin.

It's not like that for the Lions, at least it hasn't been for awhile. The Lions are the butt of every joke, a three-hour comedy of errors to be ignored Sunday afternoon while you do something else. My own father only watches just to see what new lowlight they can add to their already full reel. When combing through newspaper Web sites to glean my Detroit news, it's impossible to ignore the swell of negativity that's overtaken the team and everyone who pulls for them.

What I'm saying is that I want out. My Sundays have been void of excitement for too long and I want to feel like a real Chicagoan. I want to be a Bears fan.

Is there room for one more on that bandwagon?

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9 Comments

Welcome, Kyle. We'll get together this week and rehearse the first few verses of the Super Bowl Shuffle.

i'm the opposite way. I was born a bears fans. I will be buried with peanut tillman's jersey wrapped around my mortal remains. That being said, i'm currently attending st louis university and can no longer watch my beloved bears on basic cable. Instead i'm subjected to the $%$# festival that is the st louis rams on a weekly basis. They don't match Detroit's history of failure, but they could be found at the bottom of the NFL'S barrel next to the lions the past couple of years. Week after week, i watch these die hard fans root for the impossible, cheer for the simplest of gains, and retain high hopes even up until the time the Rams collapse in every game like everyone else knows they will. Growing up in Chicago, That's what being a sports fan meant to me. Between rooting for the Cubs and the Bears, I had a rough decade to say the least. Now that the Bears have started to pick themselves up, (i don't want to talk about the cubs) it feels like they are personally rewarding me for my dedication in the years past. So now i look at these Rams fans with a great deal of empathy; I am no stranger to suffering. The bear in me will never die, but i think i found rooom for a ram

Kyle responds:

I guess 5 years of college is bound to pay off sooner or later. Your mother wants to know if we can throw out your Eric Hipple jersey and the Darrel Rodgers bobblehead doll?

Kyle responds: It was 4.5 years and feel free to put it into the cpompost pile with the others.

Does this mean we can plan to watch "The Christmas Story" all day on Thanksgiving with no break for the game? Hallelujah!

Kyle responds: Yes, and then change the worlds to "you'll claw your eyes out" if the Lie Downs accidentally get switched on.

Ya know - I also feel and share your pain. So do the thousands and thousands of fans here in Detroit. But jumping ship is no way to solve your problem. You wrote
"And I've seen what it's like when a whole city gets behind a team,..." How can you expect our city to back the Lions when we have fans like you leaving? I know your disappointed but there will be a day, more glorious than winning the Mega Millions - where the Lions win the Super Bowl. For what its worth - when that day comes, we will be able to join the in celebration as if we were a Lions player. For all the suffering, pain and misery - am sticking out the fight to the very end!

Go Lions!!!

Kyle responds: I'm so, so torn about this. I'll still love the Lions, I just don't want to feel guilty for pulling for my hometown guys.

Detroit fans are amazingly resilient, as evidenced by the 2006 Detroit Tigers. And they still sell out games at Ford Field, even if people are wearing paper bags on their heads.

But, hey...Pistons just got Allen Iverson...that's something I can get behind.

Thanks for reading.

Take me with you!!! Wait on second thought, if I'm going to jump ship, (which I am about to do) I'm going over to the AFC to claim a new team to depend on and cheer for on Sunday. I just can't go over to the darkside (Bears). Come back Anakin, don't go to the darkside..

Great article!

Kyle responds: Thanks, Rick. Let me recommend the Buffalo Bills if you go.

I remember the Lions of the 1950's, particularly the duel-to-the death-with-the-Packers thrillers on Thanksgiving Day. No matter what problems they had during the early part of the season, there was always that fantastic shoot-out to look forward to. People (myself included) would climb onto the roof in gale-force winds to re-tune the TV antenna to Lansing, and that snowy black-and-white image on the livingroom console was ample reason to delay dinner, no matter who was coming.

So the Detroit Lions have stunk for 49 years! I ask you: Do Cubs fans ever quit? No!

Did the Israelites give up? No! And it took THEM about 3,000 years to get to the promised land!

Accentuate the positive: Ford Field is cool! Kwame is behind bars! the Chevy Volt is nearly a reality! John Madden missed a game! There will be change in Washington! Never give up! Never, never, never, ahahahahahahaahhahhahahah!

The Lions have two first round picks next year. New Managment and are going to have a stellar young team. They will be good in two years i have no doubt about that.

The last five weeks they have lost games by less than a touchdown and although that has been the most frustrating thing for a lions fan to put up with but it does show promise. They are missing a few link in the chain but that should be put together in the offseason.

Never Give Up!

You sir are the scum oft he earth. How dare you abandon your team just because of 50+ embarrasing seasons...Who am I kidding-I roll with the Jets.

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This page contains a single entry by Kyle Koster published on November 2, 2008 7:50 PM.

Slamball, 'One Tree Hill' and the art of the modern mashup was the previous entry in this blog.

New BCS rankings out: 1. Alabama 2. Texas Tech 3. Penn State 4. Texas 5. Florida is the next entry in this blog.

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