Loyalty beyond loss: maybe these Lions are different

Published 7:56 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Ellen Brabo
For the Washington Daily News

As Sunday’s NFC Championship showdown with the San Francisco 49ers approaches, I find myself caught in a whirlwind of emotions. For Detroit Lions fans, the road to this point has been riddled with decades of disappointment and heartbreak, making the prospect of a victory both thrilling and hard to believe. This isn’t just a game; it’s a culmination of a lifetime of rooting for the underdog.

Wearing the Honolulu Blue is more than just supporting a football team; it’s a testament to resilience and unwavering loyalty. There’s a unique bond among Lions fans – an unspoken understanding of the struggles and heartbreak that come with our team. This season has been different, though. Yet, as Sunday approaches, there’s a collective hesitancy among fans. Can we allow ourselves to believe that this could be the year? The echoes of past letdowns linger, and optimism is met with a cautious restraint.

For fellow Washington resident Henry Capogna, a Lions fan since sitting in his father’s lap at the 1957 Championship game, this opportunity is a precious moment. Traveling to San Francisco with his son, he recognizes the historic significance of this occasion – a moment that may not come around again in their lifetime. As Lions fans, we are accustomed to hoping for victories and receiving a loss, so Capogna knows better than to expect a win on Sunday. And yet, as those of us who are Lions fans do, we remain loyal, still watching every week, holding our breath, hoping this time, maybe, just maybe, we can breathe.

The very essence of grit and determination that defines Detroit is mirrored in our coach, and it has sparked a renewed sense of hope and belief. Head coach Dan Campbell, a former tight end, who experienced the infamous 0-16 season with the Lions, has become the face of the team’s resurgence. His personal connection to the struggles of the past serves as a rallying point for fans who have long endured the pain of defeat. As Lions fans, we know grit better than most, and Campbell embodies that spirit, igniting hope in a fan base accustomed to “expecting to lose.”

So, as I sit here in Eastern North Carolina, proudly preparing to don my Megatron (Calvin Johnson) jersey, I carry a reserved hope – a belief that on this national stage, the Lions won’t let me down. This is the biggest audience they’ve had in my lifetime, and while the world may expect them to falter, I’m counting on our Lions to seize the moment, defy the skeptics, and show that they are not the same franchise that once went 0-16. Here’s to hoping the roar heard around the world is one of triumph, leaving the rest of the nation saying, “Maybe, just maybe, these Lions are different.”