By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) This. Look at it. Drink it in nice and good.
If you’re not aware, that is Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. He’s a massive stroke. And not just because in that GIF he may have singlehandedly set the white man back decades as far as being able to look smooth. (We’ve worked so hard, Jim. I mean, really?) Nor just because he embraces his dbaggery wholeheartedly.
He’s also boys with Kid Rock. (Excuse me, “Bob,” I should say.) Boys enough that “Bob” even hangs out in the locker room with Schwartz and even wrote the 2012 Detroit Lions theme song, which even for Kid Rock standards should get him tried for war crimes.
Somehow Schwartz also managed to make Jim Harbaugh look sympathetic last year. Or at least made himself known as equally insane as Harbaugh. That’s just unforgivable. So is making me agree with a different kind of crazy person like this.
Schwartz is one of several factors that has me thinking of late why the Lions are not as loathed here in Chicago as, say, the Green Bay Packers. Yes, those Green Bay Packers that since the dirty teams of the mid-80s have done little else besides win lots of games and be a model NFL organization for the most part.
It comes with the territory here in Chicago—you’re born and shortly after your communication skills develop you are taught to hate the Packers. No real rationale is placed behind the indoctrination; it is merely to be accepted without question. Even Bears head coach Lovie Smith pandered to the fanbase by making it his first of three goals in his introductory press conference in 2004: “Beat the Packers.”
And sports rivalries are fun and all, regardless of rationality. I get that. What I don’t get is why the Lions, who the Bears take on this coming Monday night, aren’t considered as abhorrent as the Packers are. There are certainly valid reasons, and Jim Schwartz again is merely one of them.
Defensive end Ndamukong Suh was having a fairly quiet season—both off the field and on (10 tackles, 2.5 sacks)—after a 2011 he’d probably like to forget. But it’s hard to keep a good jerk down, and last week Suh was allegedly involved in a road rage incident where he also drove away from the accident scene because he’s an important football player who doesn’t have time for fender benders. Don’t call him a dirty player, though. He’ll just laugh at you.
I’m sure Suh is feeling fortunate that he wasn’t arrested for what happened last week because he would have only added to the epidemic of Lions legal woes in 2012. For some reason the team has decided to take a page out of the Cincinnati Bengals playbook of last decade, a decade that made them the butt of many jokes and produced zero playoff appearances. The Lions don’t embody so much the grit and tenacity of Detroit as commercials try to promote but instead more the stereotypical Detroit. You know, the city that Gary, IN looks at and says, “That’s just embarrassing.”
Perhaps the only likable guy on the team, freakish receiver Calvin Johnson, even found himself at odds with the organization recently when he told the media he received a concussion in a game but the team was denying that. The hell? Is this a Monty Python bit?
The Bears really do not like the Lions either. That isn’t much of a secret. When the most milquetoastiest coach in the league breaks from his usual coachspeak and says, “I’m sure Chicago isn’t one of Detroit’s favorites and they’re not one of our favorites,” that’s the Lovie Smith equivalent of lighting Jim Schwartz’s dog on fire. You don’t hear that when talk of the Packers comes up (or that of the 4-2 Minnesota Vikings). Instead, you’ll get cookie-cutter sound bites of “tradition” and “rivalry” and how talented the Packers are, but it’s doubtful you’ll hear coaches or players speak of “bad blood.” That happens in the week leading up to the Lions game, though.
Detroit is a thoroughly dislikable band of thugs. It’d be one thing if they were also really successful like their Bad Boy Pistons great uncles, but they’re not. They made the playoffs last season for the first time since 1999 and got immediately smoked by the New Orleans Saints. High expectations were in order for this season, but they’ve come out of the sty slowly at 2-3.
You can’t be bad guys and bad at what you do.
So where’s the beef with Detroit, Bears fans? Where are the lame, homophobic internet memes that bombard my social media feeds come Packer week? I never hear any cars-on-fire jokes like I do cheese-and-fat-chicks ones.
The Lions are very easy to dislike. So why aren’t they?