They say, “Joe, why do you drink?”
I have a shameful confession to make: I am a Detroit Lions fan. There, it’s out there and I can’t take it back. I root for a team that has won 3 out of their last 39 games, holds the NFL record for the longest drought of road wins, and is the only team in the history of the league to go 0-16 in a season. And people wonder why I drink.
It hasn’t always been this way. They were once the most dominant team on the planet. Granted, I wasn’t even alive during that period, but I do remember offenses featuring Billy Sims and Barry Sanders, and defenses led by monsters like Bubba Baker, Chris Spielman, and Luther Ellis. While the Lions official motto is “Rebuilding Since 1957,” there have been signs that things may finally heading in the other direction. Okay, that may not actually be their official motto, but it is easier these days to be a little optimistic about America’s biggest losers.
While reading articles about Detroit’s recent free agency moves, I came across this article in the Detroit Free Press about how head coach Jim Schwartz used wine to help lure a Titans defensive end to the Motor City.
“But that bottle of wine he brought to defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch’s house? He says he needed help with that.
“My knowledge of wine begins and ends with Boone’s Farm,” said Schwartz, who is also proud of his blue-collar Baltimore roots. “But I know some people that know a lot about wine, and I brought a bottle that was going to get his wife’s attention.”
For the record, it was a 2005 Opus One Cabernet.”
“I think it only works if you have a relationship with the player,” Schwartz said. “If I had never met Kyle before, it would have been very awkward. You would have shown up, we would have spent 10 minutes and then you would have been gone. …
“If it’s somebody else, maybe they’re pretending they’re not home, turning the lights out.”
Well, it’s hard to turn out the lights on someone holding a bottle of Opus One, even if he says he isn’t a wine guy.
“If you want to get in somebody’s house and take four hours of their time or 3 ½ hours of their time, let’s make it worth their while,” Schwartz said. “It was just a small gesture.
If you are ever a guest at my house, please feel free to remember Coach Schwartz’s advice. But if you plan to stay for 3 1/2 hours, you might want to bring 2 bottles.
So, is the Lions coach a big fan of Opus One?
“I’m not a big wine-drinker. I honestly don’t like wine like that, because it makes me feel so bad about drinking other stuff. You go back and you’re like, ‘This stuff is crap. I want some of that good stuff.’ The good stuff is real expensive.”
I think most people reading these pages can feel your pain, Jim. A lot of the good stuff is expensive. However, while being head coach of the Detroit Lions may not be the most secure job in the world, I’m guessing he can afford to buy a bottle or two of the good stuff now and then. Kyle Vanden Bosch sure can. After the Opus One seduced him he signed a contract worth $26 million, with $10 million guaranteed for the coming season.
I’ll drink to that. Coach?