We can't look away from a mangled tragedy.
We can't look away from miserable failure.
We want to. We should. But we can't.
The Detroit Lions -- even in the eyes of the most wide-eyed optimist -- are helpless. They're a mangled, irreparable mess. They've lost all 15 of their games this year and 22 of their last 23 overall.
In short: they are that crash. And we are those gawkers.
They'd long to be a laughingstock. People stop laughing when it gets too depressing, too pathetic.
Their much maligned general manager, Matt Millen, was finally driven out of town. They haven't won since. Reporters are asking about the marital life of coach Rod Marinelli's daughter. The starting center is challenging fans to fist fights.
Mercifully, the Lions' season will end on Sunday in Green Bay. They'll be attempting to become the first team to lose all 16 games in a season.
Just one year after the New England Patriots achieved a perfect regular season, we may see the most imperfect one.
The Lions have not won in Green Bay this century, are 10.5-point underdogs and most importantly, have done nothing to instill any kind of confidence in anyone. But none of these seemingly important facts have kept cornerback Nick Fisher from doing his best Joe Namath impersonation.
Growing up in Michigan and learning the game through jaw-dropping Barry Sanders runs, it has been sad to see the decline of my favored team. I went through the typical phases of denial, grief, anger and acceptance. I even tried to defect to the Chicago Bears -- a two-week experiment that may ultimately cost Lovie Smith & Co. a playoff spot and confirmed I am a football fan pariah." "I think we're going to shock a lot of people with a great game. I feel like we're going to win," he said. "Not to take anything away from Green Bay, but we're a great football team. I know the record doesn't show it, but I'm going to say it."
But I wonder if I'm alone in my desire to see the Lions lose yet again. A 1-15 season is putrid, terrible and embarrassing. An 0-16 season is historic, unbelievable and something many thought they'd never see. And honestly, at this point does it even matter if they win one game?
Lions fans are resilient. They are able to pick themselves up from the mat after particularly brutal losses. This season has knocked down even the most hardcore fans for the count. I doubt if an improbable win in Green Bay will do anything to buoy confidence for the future.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the masses want to see Detroit rise up and shock the world. Maybe they're the underdog everyone can root for. It's unlikely. But then again, so was an 0-16 season.
So here's to being perfectly imperfect. To excelling in never excelling. To reaching the pinnacle of the lowest points.
It's been a disastrous, gut-wrenching season of epic failure. It'd be a shame to ruin it now.
One thing is for certain.
We'll be watching.
Lord knows we can't look away.