October 28, 2008

Guest Stadium Review - Ford Field, Redskins-Lions 10/26/08

Background - We here at ECB understand that at least 1/3 of our loyal contingent of 7 readers resides in the wonderful battleground state of Michigan, home of a disgraced Mayor who says "Detroit done set me up for a comeback" (and we Washingtonians thought Mayor for Life Barry was bad), and home of a governor who is a Supreme Court possibility. And yes, home of the Lansing Lugnuts. Anyway, we believe it would be educational for the rest of us around the country to understand what life is like in Lions country these days, and for that, I turn it over to ECB guest commentator, loyal reader, and Wolverine for life, Ben, for his recap/review of the Lions-Redskins game, live from Ford Field...

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Jeremy's invitation for me to guest blog a review of my experience at the Skins-Lions game included the following:

"I think it would be fun to read a review of an experience at a game with people who are totally resigned to at best seeing their team go 2-14."

My question is, where do you see two wins left on their schedule?
I defy anyone to find a worse franchise in the NFL than the Detroit Lions. The Matt Millen firing earlier this year is a great step forward, but will obviously have no immediate returns. Things are already looking up with the Roy Williams trade for 1st and 3rd rounders. The best part? Millen won't be there to use those draft picks. But again, this doesn't translate into wins this year.
No, the Lions fans (I count myself in that group, to an extent) are resigned to going 0-16. The game did not sell out. It was blacked out. The crowd was at least 50% Redskins fans, although I may be overestimating that number because all the Skins fans had on Skins stuff, and many of the Lions fans were there in generic t-shirts or Tiger gear they bought in October 2006. Also, the Jon Jansen family (raised in Michigan, UM grad) was out in full force. (Editor's Note by Jeremy - Jon Jansen showed his family how well he can commit holding penalties quite frequently on Sunday... but alas, he did open up some big holes for Sheriff Gonna Getcha)
I think there were a handful of Oriole fans, too. I saw a small number of Terps stuff and O's stuff, and I'm pretty sure I heard a faint "O's!" during the Star Spangled Banner.
The Redskins did their thing, where they kick field goals rather than score touchdowns. Normally, these wasted drives would have me beside myself. However, these were the Lions we were playing, and I had no fear. Not once during the entire game did I think for one second that the Lions would win.
Nevertheless, it's still a little embarrassing to be the first team to give up first quarter points to the Lions, and only the second to not lead by at least 21 points at some point during the game.
Meanwhile, the Lions fans got their cheering in while they could. They kind of got into it when the Skins were pinned back deep or when the Lions got a first down (it happened a couple times). But as soon as Santana Moss caught his first TD, that was pretty much the end of Detroit fans wasting their energy with cheering. When Moss ran back that awesome punt return (cruising into the end zone right in front of me) the rats started leaving the sinking ship. They did not even wait for the failed two-point conversion (why did we go for two? I hate the chart that early).
In case you've forgotten when that punt return occurred, there was 11:30 left in the 4th. The score was 22-10. In most football games, you would not consider that game over. But they did. Many of those who did not bother to leave decided to boo every Lions miscue, chant "We want Stanton!" or say the F-word a lot, as all the while the Lions marched down the field on 10 plays to cut the score to 22-17.
Oh, guess it's a ball game after all. We better start cheering again.
After Portis' big run that put the Skins in field goal range, another wave of Lions fans left. After Corey Redding tried to pick up the Campbell fumble rather than fall on it, as though he were going to run with it more than one yard, the Lions fans laughed, groaned, and the next wave walked out.
Finally, the real die hards and Redskins fans got to watch Detroit not threaten on a potential game-tying drive to end the game. Seriously, the outcome was never in doubt. Traffic was pretty good leaving the stadium.
There were a number of tailgaters. Something like 20 or so, I didn't bother counting. There were also a few scalpers, interestingly enough. My anonymous Detroit friend and I were early enough that they were still trying to acquire tickets, asking if we had extras. In a George Costanza moment, my anonymous Detroit friend realized "That's what I should have said!" as we were standing right next to the ticket windows when we were accosted. If you're looking for tickets, buddy, they're still available right over there.
Ford Field itself is very cool. When you enter, it's very open and you can immediately see the field, almost in full view. All throughout the concourse, you feel very connected to the field, which is great. There is a main walkway down the concourse that has a faux-cobblestone floor, and all the decent looking vendors have brick facades from top to bottom. It feels like a Disneyfied version of Eutaw Street. For an indoor football stadium, it's really nice. The rest of the concourse is utterly bland. But sitting in the seats themselves was also a good experience. Granted, I was in row 21 on the first level ($62 on sale, normally $84).
We also went inside the Roar and More (team store) where Roy Williams and Kevin Jones replica jerseys were on clearance for $30. WTF? Were those even worth $30 when they were on the team? We also found lots of racks with authentic game issued jerseys. My anonymous Detroit friend told me which of the names he recognized, including some former high draft picks gone bad. Mostly they were garbage names. I did find one C. Rogers #80 jersey. Even more exciting for me was the Bellamy jersey, as in Ron Bellamy, a former Wolverine who only Wolverine fans would know. He suited up for the Lions once upon a time. Who knew? I wanted to buy it, but $150 is a lot of money for a joke purchase. (Why are the jerseys of former backup defensive tackles and long snappers more than the tickets plus parking and beer?)
Also of note, while we were entertaining ourselves by browsing through these jerseys, a couple of girls, presumably working there, came up and said, "Can I help you find something?" I've become kind of bad at judging the age of kids as I get older, but I am positive neither of these girls were older than 14, and I would guess more like 12. I can't even begin to guess what was going on there (Editor's Note - Not to make light of the unemployment situation in Michigan, but I have a feeling maybe more than a few GM employees are available to take over once you've ratted out the Lions for illegal hiring practices).
In case you couldn't tell, I had a great time, and it was chicken soup for the football soul after the debacle Michigan had against MSU the day before. The stadium is so nice that I can't wait until Michigan is good enough to go to the Motor City Bowl so I can go back for a game.

9 Responses:

anonymous Detroit friend said...

I am glad you enjoyed yourself. Just like you were never worried about a loss, I never thought the Lions would win. What surprised me, though, was the number of Lions fans who didn't quite get it. I couldn't believe the anger and vulgar language of some of the fans. That type of language happens everywhere but why are Lions fans still so angry? What is the point of calling some guy an f***ing moron when that guy has no business even being in the NFL? Go to the game, have a good time, and watch the Lions lose. No need to get your panties in a bunch.

The Daily Breather said...

YES! What a great post. As one of the MANY Michigan ex-pats it's cool to hear about the homeland. I guess Ford Field didn't bring the city back from disadter after all. We were so hoping. Man, not only do the Lions suck this year but they royally suck. They have to be the most consistant sports franchise in US professional sports. Can you name a more consistant team? There's my silver lining.

Glad you got to see MSU's victory as well. We beat Notre Dame AND Michigan this year. Had we only beat Ohio State it would've been a banner year.

"ben" said...

Yeah. Congrats on the win, Sparty. But you did catch that I'm from UM, right? So, when you say you're glad I got to see MSU win, I assume what you mean is you're glad that I finally had to suffer from the unspeakable pain that I hadn't felt since 2001.

Also, I was at the OSU-MSU game. Saying "had we only beat Ohio State" is like the Lions saying "had we only won our first seven games..." Not that I'm in a position to put down anyone else's college team.

Staci said...

Excellent post.

More Ben!

More guest postings!

Maybe Jeremy should do a rant about his heartbreaking tie in fantasy football.

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