I’m going to Detroit this weekend for my annual pilgrimmage to see the Minnesota Vikings play the (“pitiful, hopeless and hapless,” according to Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King) Detroit Lions. Detroit is always a good time; in fact, here are my top five memories of my most recent trips to the Motor City.
- Glitter, glisten, gloss, floss, Daunte Culpepper drops back on 3rd-and-24 from the Minnesota 18-yard line, then unloads a perfect bomb straight up the middle of the field to a streaking Randy Moss, who splits the Detroit secondary, catches the ball in stride and waltzes into the end zone for an 82-yard touchdown (which is the career best for either Culpepper or Moss, by the way). Minnesota wins 28-27 after the Lions botch the game-typing PAT with eleven seconds left in regulation.
- Bri makes friends everywhere she goes. Like, everywhere–she’ll leave the mall having befriended eight random store clerks. It’s one of her more endearing qualities; in Detroit, however, it can be a dangerous weapon. As we were entering the Masonic Temple Theatre to see The Phantom of the Opera, Bri got into an extended conversation with the friendly neighbourhood crackhead; at various points it involved her dangling a $5 in front of him, then me grabbing her arm and dragging her down the street as she muttered, “Is he going to shoot us?” True story–and yes, there’s at least a 50% chance that I’m being dumped for reprinting it on my blog. As Jon Thompson said when he learned that Bri and I were going to Detroit: “Steve, you’re a target; Bri is an opportunity.”
- This isn’t specific to any one visit to Detroit, but isn’t it amazing how much good music has come out of Detroit? Or that’s been written about Detroit–namely “Detroit Rock City” by KISS? And since we’re talking about music, I’ve been told that Berry Gordy actually created Motown with the express purpose of giving American youth music to drive to. Manufactured driving music…Bruce Springsteen would be proud.
- Exploring “the fabulous ruins of Detroit” (to borrow Lowell Boileau’s expression). It’s disquieting walking through the downtown core of one of America’s biggest cities and being surrounded by absolutely nothing. If you’ve never done it, you should–it’s actually an incredible experience. It inspired me to write a paper for one of my graduate courses; considering how much I hated grad school, the fact that anything could inspire me to write a twenty-five page essay suggets I didn’t completely miss the boat.
- It was in Detroit that I saw Mike McMahon play quarterback. Inevitably, the game came down to a two-point conversion attempt for the tie…and McMahon overthrew a wide open receiver in the end zone. Minnesota 38, Detroit 36. Hard to argue with a score like that.
On a football-related note: if you’d have told me in late October that this would be an absolutely vital game for the Minnesota Vikings I’d have laughed in your face. The team was 2-5, Daunte Culpepper was out for the season, the Love Boat theme was being played at road games…and I was writing blog entires imploring the Vikings to lose out in order to sew up the #1 draft pick and get Mike Tice fired. Then Minnesota beat Detroit. And then the New York Giants, in a game in which the Vikings scored three special teams touchdowns…and not a single point on offence until a field goal with three seconds left in the fourth quarter. Then the Vikings pulled out a mini-miracle against the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, manhandled the Cleveland Browns last weekend…and suddenly, they’re 6-5, Brad Johnson is undefeated, the defence is gelling and the Vikings are in the playoff hunt. Right now, there’s a very real possibility of a one-game showdown for the NFC North title between the Vikings and the Chicago Bears on January 1. Again, if you’d have told me this in late October I’d have laughed in your face.
In Detroit, meanwhile, the wagons are circling. Steve Mariucci was fired after last week’s debacle against Detroit; Dre’ Bly is calling Joey Harrington out in the press, the team is demanding that Charles Rogers return $10 million of his $14 million bonus because he’s been suspended twice for drug use…yup, pitiful, hopeless and hapless indeed. Exactly how the Vikings were in late October, in fact–which is why I’m worried about this game. If Minnesota is serious about challenging for a playoff berth, this is exactly the kind of game they need to win. Wait–let me rephrase that: it’s the kind of game they need to dominate. I’m at least 40% convinced that they can. Prediction: Vikings 27, Lions 17.