The Detroit Lions kick off another season tonight on Monday Night Football, and it is inevitable that every true Lions fan will go through the following stages while watching the game.

Stage 1: Excitement

It's impossible not to be excited at the beginning of the season, but when you add in that we start on Monday Night Football?! That must ramps things up even more. The national spotlight, the show that the NFL puts on promoting the game, and the fact that The Lions have no losses yet all factor in.

I mean, how can you help it? Even the most grizzled Lions fan lets the fleeting thought of "maybe this could be the year" sneak in.

Stage 2: Buzzkill

The National Anthem has been sung, the players have been introduced, and the Lions get the ball first.

They run three plays, gain 4 yards, and punt the ball.

Stage 3: Despair

This is where the fairweather Lions fans start to talk about SOL (Same Old Lions) and usually pretend to stop paying any attention to the game. This is the point of the game where the Lions are down by at least two touchdowns and have less than 75 yards of total offense.

Things look bad because they are bad . . . but a real Lions fan knows whats coming next.

Stage 4: HOPE

Sometime in the third or early fourth quarter, something happens.

Stafford starts throwing darts. Whoever the running back is starts ripping off 6 and 7 yard runs like it's nothing. Finally the Lions score, and it only took a few minutes to happen.

Maybe they just needed to shake off the pre-game nerves, and THIS is the Lions team we all knew would show up.

Stage 5: Reality

With momentum on our side, our offense on the field, and a chance to drive for the win, everything looks great.

We turn the ball over and watch the Jets take a knee for the win.


BONUS STAGE: Reflection

This is not listed in the regular progression because it can come in many different forms.

Some people spend time finding the good things that the Lions did and try to build back up to the excitement stage. Some find a questionable call to focus on and blame the entire first half on that, despite having the bad call in the second half. Some use it to drag around their SOL catchphrase and make fun of us who refuse to give up on the Lions.

Then there are those of us who accept what just happened, and still find a way to look forward to going through it all again . . . 17 more times. We are the real Lions fans.

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