Here’s the most difficult part of being objective when it comes to this Detroit Lions football team: I’ve been a fan of this team ever since Thanksgiving Day 1997. The Detroit Lions helped define some of my fondest memories of the holiday season, and it all started with Barry Sanders and the Lions ambushing the Chicago Bears, 55-20.
It’s just before dinner and I’m in the basement at my grandmother, Wanda’s, house. I’m surrounded by uncles and my now PODcast-famous father, Walt. We’re watching the box television just below the egress window, pointing and cheering with each handoff until a few calls that teetered on pleading from my grandmother for us to join the dinner table. Her mashed potatoes ultimately pulled us away from Sanders running roughshod over the Bears.
I wonder how much longer she’s going to hang onto that memory—or if she could even recall it if you asked her about it.
For those of you who watch us on Twitch or listen to any of the podcasts or even come into contact with this website during the month of November, you know Jeremy does an incredible job of coordinating and producing a fundraiser for a couple of charities. This year we’re raising money for the Crisis Text Line, and the Alzheimer’s Association, and Jeremy seeks the input from Chris and I for potential charities—and I didn’t hesitate to suggest the Alzheimer’s Association.
Detroit Lions Week 12 Song of the Game: “Welcome to the Show” by J Dilla
For some time, my grandmother’s memory has been getting less reliable. She’s unable to spend significant amounts of time by herself without the aid or support of a relative. During a certain time of the day, she can become especially confused, sometime short-tempered or irritable, and it’s not her intentions whatsoever. It’s Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s one of the saddest parts of my life right now.
But Thursday and Friday brought me such profound joy because there I was, surrounded by family, watching the injury-riddled Lions give the Super Bowl contender Buffalo Bills every bit of hell. We were pointing and cheering, all hanging on the edge of our seats with every snap. But we had one more person there watching in attendance, my son— The Great Baby—Teddy.
There have been so many changes to my life over the past year—I’ve gotten married, and with that made a promise to my best friend to take care of her and the two daughters who teach me so much about life every day. My wife had our first son in June and I couldn’t wait to share him with my grandmother, especially. Her love has meant so much to me in my life that I wanted to share with her the newest love in my life. Needless to say, my grandmother has “met” Teddy on more than one occasion, but over this holiday, she remembered and even referenced the last time she saw him.
The kind of man that you thought I could be.
The game ended, we ate dinner—some family members definitely got a little SOL, but who doesn’t have those relatives?—and at the end of it all, my grandmother seemed to be her old self for the first time in months. People talk about the magic of the holidays all the time, and it sells plenty of Hallmark movie scripts, but regardless of the outcome of that game, the magic felt so surreal when DJ Chark caught his touchdown pass and the Lions went up 3. The 51-yard field goal from Michael Badgley that snuck in the right upright as Jim Nantz screamed, “Something moved it left!” Sure, the Lions lost, and it felt like a winnable game, and they could’ve been that much closer to a playoff berth had they closed things out. There are certainly fans opining why the Lions are winning football games instead of losing them for the sake of draft position.
But for a little over three hours, the Lions were competitive, and their play brought us together in way I hadn’t quite experienced in 25 years; it’s a Thanksgiving memory that now sits alongside a moment where I first felt being drawn to the communal aspect of sports, all of us cheering into a box in a basement all those years ago. There’s no sense in exchanging the opportunity to pick higher in a random draft for experiencing that moment of togetherness—because maybe there won’t be another time to really feel that magic while being surrounded by the people you love, even if they’re right there in front of you.
You can find the 2022 playlist here (or below):