First came the news that the Lions had sold out their first preseason game since 2005. Next, regular season tickets went on sale this morning and the Lions sold out the Monday Night Football game in less than 45 minutes. Soon, the Thanksgiving game will sell out too. For Lions fans unable to regularly attend home games, this is great news. But for the Lions organization, this is a message: We Believe.
The Lions fellowship has come a long way in just three years. In 2008, the Lions managed to only sell out three times. I'm sure there was a reason for this, but, unfortunately, I have absolutely no recollection of that season. The following year, half of Lions' homes games sold out, but the local TV market was blacked out for both of the Lions' wins that year, including the incredibly unforgettable Browns game. Last year, the Lions managed to sell out all but one game, yet they needed several extensions to avoid a blackout (including the Thanksgiving game).
This year, it appears the Lions faithful have bought in, literally and figuratively. On top of the impressive ticket sales (did I mention 11,200 NEW season ticket packages sold?), bookies are confounded by the amount of bets coming in for the Lions as Super Bowl(!!!) contenders. Additionally, some fans and bloggers have allowed themselves to mention the "P word" as a legitimate possibility.
Some look at this wave of Honolulu blue and scoff at all of the "bandwagoners". Not me. The increase in fandom will only bring respectability to a franchise that has lacked it. Maybe for the first time in a decade, when we pronounce to the world: "We are Lions fans", the immediate reaction will not be "I'm sorry."
However, it won't be easy to keep this momentum going. The Lions begin the season with back-to-back games against opponents who went 10-6 last year. They should take one of those games, but it is very possible they drop both. If that's the case, it's almost certain fans will jump the wagon. But for old and new fans alike, I urge you to give them time (yes, I know, more time). By the end of the season, we will all see it was worth our passion and money.