The man was wearing a hat, and as he walked closer, I leaned back and nodded to him, glancing up toward his cap.
"Is this the week they do it?" I asked the man.
It took him a second to process my question, but when he saw where my focus was, he understood.
"I dunno," he answered, grabbing the bill of his cap and adjusting it on his head. "Dey're running out of chances."
"I'm a Lions fan, too," I admitted. "If not today...when? Right? I think they're headed toward history. Very very bad history."
"Yah, dey got rid of Millen, but dat was just da start. Dey've got so many problems."
"Well," I said, "we know we can't count on the Lions to win the last game of the year at Lambeau. They haven't won there in what...seventeen years? Good luck to us!" I added as he kept walking and I took a step forward in my line.
"Yah, here's hopin'," he said.
This wasn't the week, by the way. The Lions had a 6-3 lead at halftime of a riveting game against the Vikings, and kept it close in the second half. But as I watched the scroll line for scoring updates, I wasn't even sure what I was cheering for.
Did I want Detroit to win, and erase the possibility of laying the biggest goose egg in NFL history? (The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14 in the franchise's inaugural season in 1976; but the Lions have been around...and very bad...for a while.) Or did I want the Lions to keep it close, put up a fight, and lose, as they continue their pursuit of "perfection"?
I guess my honest reactions to the scoring updates told the answer. I wanted them to win. They lost, 20-16.
It's a tough job being a Lions fan. And there's something of a kinship when we see one of our own wearing his colors on his sleeve. Or his chest. Or his head.
Here's to a showdown at Lambeau in Week 17.
And here's to a 1-15 finish for the hapless Lions.
"Defeat doesn't finish a man — quit does.
A man is not finished when he's defeated.
He's finished when he quits."
—Richard M. Nixon