My fans (gauged by the game’s fan loyalty index) are happier with the team now that we’ve shown a propensity not to suck (frequent Stafford picks notwithstanding). We all know what that means. Higher ticket prices.
Eat it, Detroit. Just because robots have replaced you on auto assembly lines and your robot supervisory roles were later eliminated when the auto factories shuttered doesn’t mean football is free. Why, there are all kinds of jobs in Michigan. Like housing foreclosure administrator. Or foreclosure auctioneer. And let’s not forget the fast-growing robot disassembly technician. But keep buying the Ford Focus.
Getting the fans excited is important, because I’m going back into the free agent market. This is a make or break year. I can keep this roster together for this season, but will probably have to jettison some high salaries afterwards. My offensive line is aging and nicked up by injuries. I pick up a good guard to bolster my line. I need a running back badly, but there are no decent free agent backs, and the draft is light in that position. Rudi Johnson will carry the load one more year. I pick LB, S, CB and LB in the draft. If I can’t improve my offense, I’ll smother teams with defense.
Matthew “Mike” Stafford is still progressing slowly. “Mike Sanchez is playing at a higher level than you are, kid,” I scold. “It’s Mark Sanchez,” he says. “You remember his name, but you can’t identify the opposing team’s jersey when you toss them the ball 1.3 times a game?” We don’t have what you’d call a ‘nurturing father/son relationship.’
The Lions go 11-5 again. Injuries pop up in untimely fashion, but the squad remains healthy for the playoffs. We lose to the Packers twice, but narrowly edge them out for the division title and the first round of the playoffs (perfect timing as Aaron Rogers was injured for the game). Next up is Seattle. Hey, there’s Matt Ryan. Atlanta’s loss is Seattle’s gain. But also their loss, because my DE knocked him out of the game in the third quarter. Detroit has its first NFC title game appearance since Wayne Fontes. You know what that means? I’m as good as Wayne Fontes. I should sell t-shirts. Across the way, the San Diego Chargers haven’t even made the playoffs. The Chargers dynasty is mercifully over. We meet Philadelphia for the NFC Championship. The Eagles are 15-1 and the class of the league, but my pass rush keeps Donovan McNabb in check.
The Super Bowl. It’s what we all dream about when we’re not dreaming of naked chicks and automatic weapons. Our opponent is none other than the Oakland Raiders led by Charlie Frye. Charlie fucking Frye. From the University of Akron Zips. In the MAC conference. If we don’t win, those “I’m as good as Wayne Fontes” shirts aren’t going to move at all. The Lions prevail 26-20 on the arm of Matt “You’ll always be Mike (or Mitch) to me” Stafford, and Detroit burns to the ground during the victory parade.
Keys to victory:
- Timing. Football Mogul really drives home the rarity of a Super Bowl ring. Everything has to go right…at the same time. I built the team for a two-year window. If it didn’t win in 2012, I’d be starting almost from scratch in 2013 (assuming the Mayans are wrong about the 2012 apocalypse).
- Injuries. If you have them, you’re screwed. I spent too much money on expensive free agents. I couldn’t afford any depth. If you look around the league today, you see the same thing. No one fields the 80s San Francisco 49ers teams. If someone goes down, you’re plugging in that position with a scrub or undeveloped rookie. No matter how good your season, if you have some unfortunate injuries at the end you’re screwed for the playoffs.
- Development. Developing draft picks is somewhat of a gamble. I invested in good scouts and their advice paid off in the draft. Most of my early picks became solid starters very quickly. On the other hand, Stafford wasn’t developing well and I was worried that was enough to derail my Super Bowl plans. Think about it. If I didn’t make it this season and Stafford tanked, I’d have to release a lot of players to free agency and look for a new quarterback. Potentially, that’s a 3- to 5-year setback. (Football Mogul offers a simulation mode which reduces the variability of prospects.)
- Offensive line. My RB and QB were marginal. My linemen were good. Remember, Trent Dilfer has a Super Bowl ring.
- Drafting safeties. I could’ve drafted my safeties in later rounds. Damn.
- Luck. The ball’s gotta bounce your way a little too. Charlie Frye as my Super Bowl nemesis? That’s pretty sweet. I do feel very lucky with the 2012 Lions. They will go down in history as a good team, but not a great team. Sorta like Atlanta in the 1998 season. Um. Except they didn’t win. Okay, maybe Pittsburgh in 2008. Lucky to get past the Ravens. Lucky to catch New England in a year where Brady gets hurt. Lucky to face the Cardinals.
So. Detroit Lions. Super Bowl XLVII Champions for the 2012 season. I guess the Mayans were right: 2012 is the end of the world.