The writer, a Detroit native, has spent more than 20 years in sports journalism and is editor of The Tribe Sports. This column is republished with permission.
By Michael James
On days like today, in the aftermath of another first round NFL draft, clichés are useful to prove a point. The appropriate one here is the old adage about the definition of insanity being the act of doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
So if you are a member of the two unhappiest pro football fan bases in America at this moment – the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants – please sit down and shut up.
You deserve exactly who your team selected and what you got.
Why? Because after years of futility, you not only accept what your team does, but you also support it with your bleeding hearts and your hard-earned dollars.
Year after year after year.
There are millions of you today whining and crying over Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, yet another tight end Detroit’s chosen with a top-10 pick since Eric Ebron in 2014, or angry that the Giants took Duke QB Daniel Jones with the No. 6 pick, passing over Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins and top defensive prospect Josh Allen.
You are upset and infuriated. I know this because you took to the television and radio airwaves and nearly broke the Internet to vent your displeasure and disgust.
But here is something else I know – even though I don’t specifically know you: come early September, you will don these teams’ jerseys, tailgate in their high-priced parking lots and fill their expensive stadiums in full-throated glee hoping that this time, with these very same players you cursed on draft night, your hometown boys will contend for an NFL championship.
What you are essentially doing and saying with your unconditional continued participation is that no matter what respective general managers Dave Gettleman or Bob Quinn do, it’s OK by you.
It’s called tacit agreement – which means although it’s not overtly stated, by your supportive actions, it’s implied or understood that you agree with something. In the case of Lions and Giants fans, you’re pretty much saying that you’ll settle for whatever your team gives you.
Time to forget
Oh yes, Giants fanatics, you’ll take another year of 39-year-old Eli Manning and his two-yard out passes while he mentors the quarterback from Duke that most of you never heard of before draft night. Forget that your team passed on Haskins, who’s better than Eli right now.
And hey, Detroit, after several months have passed, you’ll itch to see how Matt Patricia and Matthew Stafford employ Hockenson – otherwise known as Rob Gronkowski lite and called by experts “the safest pick in the draft” – into their new-look offense.
Maybe by September, you’ll forget about the time your team passed over Aaron Donald to take Ebron, or even that you passed up defensive tackle Ed Oliver and linebacker Devin Bush this time.
Please don’t shoot the messenger. I grew up watching the Detroit Lions all my life and have lived in New York City and spent part of my life over the past two decades covering the Giants. I’m not saying you don’t have a right to your opinions. You most certainly do.
Thing is, with your limitless support – and your ill-spent dollars – you are deserving of what you get from the Lions and the Giants. Because you are, insanely, I add, doing the same thing you always do – year after year – and expecting a different result.
Fresh hope each season
See, for the most part, when people aren’t happy with a product, they simply stop buying it. Don’t like the prices at Whole Foods? You go to Trader Joes. The neighborhood used car lot gets a rep for selling lemons? You take your business elsewhere.
But this is not the way things work with Giants and Lions fans. No, they delight in the hope that dawns with every new season, despite the gnawing feeling that their team’s braintrust continues to make bird-brained decisions.
And you know what? Because you don’t hold your respective franchises accountable by displaying your displeasure through empty seats and lost merchandising revenue, there is no accountability.
Oh, sure, today you’re upset, but what will you do?
My bet is the same things you always do: bitch, moan, complain and threaten to take your allegiance elsewhere.
Until September, that is.
That's when you’ll show up, paying dearly for the experience, to watch the beginning of another possibly sub-.500 season.
To be fair to the Lions and the Giants, they are fulfilling their obligation to you. That obligation, by the way, is not to win, but to entertain. Even the worst teams do as much. A touchdown here, a game-winning field goal there, a few long runs and passes in between and several relaxing hours on a Sunday afternoon? That’s what you are owed for the exorbitant money you pay.
You aren’t owed the right to make the decisions that Dave Gettleman and Bob Quinn made on Draft Night. You aren’t even required to like them.
But I’ll tell you this, you are insane to expect success from franchises whose executives continually make decisions that leave experts around the league shaking their heads.
What the Giants and Lions did on Draft Night says two things – that they feel they know better than most of the minds who closely follow the National Football League and that they really don’t care what you think.
A few months from now when the weather grows crisp and the leaves begin to change, Dave Gettleman, Bob Quinn and I know where you will be and what you’ll be doing.