Waiting for Superman
Growing up in Michigan there have always been two loves in my life; comic books and sports. Comics instilled in me a fascination of heroes able to do monumental achievements. Superman was always my favorite due to the power he wielded and the way in which he inspired hope. My favorite sport team, the Detroit Lions, have been far less powerful or inspiring. I have always dreamed of the Lions becoming a good football team. I have waited my whole life (as my father and grandfather before me) for a quarterback who could inspire a city to believe that greatness can be achieved. The gravity of the situation in Detroit was so bad it called for a QB to be more than a man. So as I sat on a Saturday afternoon in 2009 I had a smile across my face with the uttering of one sentence, “With the first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions take Matthew Stafford, QB from Georgia University.” I had seen Detroit’s own Superman.
To fully understand Detroit’s suffering I have to take us back to where it all began. The last time the Lion’s had their so called savior, was a man named Bobby Lane. Bobby Lane had won multiple championships for the Lions. Things were looking promising, however, things were not meant to last. One fateful day in 1958, the Detroit Lions traded Bobby Lane to the Pittsburg Steelers. Bobby Lane vowed the Lions would not win another championship for 50 years. His curse was even stronger than he imagined. It has been 54 years and we have not even played in another Championship since then. This has caused us to be the laughing stocks of papers and sports shows alike….shaming this once proud Football City.
With the curse and gloom and a stadium filled with fans wanting a reason to come back, what are we to do, quit? This is not an option. Lion fans still believe; we are taught to. Despite all the losing; fathers still take their sons to the football field and teach them to be patient. We are taught to have faith and use that faith even in the darkest of times…but even the most die hard Lion fan’s faith was questioned; if not destroyed by the man who orcastrated the 0-16 season…..Matt Millen. Millen did this to Lion fans and than walked off with Millions. This man was Lex Luthor from the Superman Comics. Though not as bright, Millen was twice as diabolical.
It was after this, when all hope seemed lost, that our savior came forth. It all happened faster than a speeding bullet…A man with a million dollar arm and a million dollar smile. A man who can conquer anything: curses, pessimism, and the destructive forces of the Packers, Bears, and Vikings. He, who like many of the all time great heroes, faces adversity. Adversity to Stafford comes in the form of injuries. Injuries have taken its toll on our savior. Doubt has crept into many of the Lions souls but doubt has not conquered Stafford or his teammates.
So why am I here to tell you that Matt Stafford is the savior? Two reasons. One, there is no denying what Stafford can do on the football field. When he is in the game the Lions are truly a different team. Stafford is a man who threw 5 TD passes versus the Cleveland Browns…the last of which was done with only one arm and was the winning score in a game that had no time remaining. It was this play that cemented him as a hero for this city. He knew the game meant little in the playoff race since we were mathematically out of the playoffs. Stafford knew his season was over by the dislocation in his non-throwing arm. Stafford had nothing left to prove; He showed he can be a good quarterback. What makes Matt Stafford our hero is the fact that he does not want to be a good quarterback; he wants to become a Great Quarterback. Walking onto the field with the doctors trying to restrain him, Stafford took control of the huddle, took the snap, and fired a laser to Brandon Pettigrew. This one play made us Lion fans believe. On that day, we forgot about the previous 50 years and talked only of the future and the possibilities that tomorrow brings.
I believe in Stafford for one more reason, Faith that the Lions can support him now. Now this hero does not have to stand alone. He has his Justice League with him: Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Titus Young, Mikel Leshoure, and a defense led by Ndumakong Suh. With all this talent, a great front office, a good young coach, and a Quarter Back who reminds us that heroes do walk among us, how can we fail? When Stafford leads us to a Super Bowl it will not just be a victory for the team…it will be the removal of a curse and a reminder that faith does not go unrewarded for those who keep it.