Recently, my friend RV (not to be confused with an actual recreational vehicle, despite comparisons that may be drawn by others), posed an interesting question, in my humble opinion.
What ever happened to all the Ford bashers?
Indeed, now that the Lions finally seem to have a good team, for the first time since the Eisenhower administration -- when's the last time you heard someone mention the family that owns them?
Blaming the Fords was easy. After all, front office personnel had come and gone, as had a long line of head coaches, and I don't know how many generations of players make up over half a century of futility, but it's at least several. The only common thread seemed to be ownership. Even though nobody could ever come up with any logical reasoning to support this theory -- it had to be somebody's fault -- so the Fords took the hit from some people.
Yours truly wrote an article a few years back where I spoofed the Fords owning the Lions. It had something to do with when the Edsel automobile made it's ill-fated debut -- which just happened to be about the same time the Lions glory days ended and the downward spiral for the football team began. It was a jinx that would haunt them forever. Thing is, it was exactly that -- a spoof. I didn't really believe in that nonsense. Sometimes things just don't work out, for various reasons, over a long period of time.
Despite what happened to them this year -- remember the Boston Red Sox and the supposed Curse of the Bambino that went on for decades? That was all mumbo-jumbo. Just somewhere to put the blame when they couldn't seem to win a title. The Bosox have won 2 World Series' in the last decade. Was it a case of Mr. George Herman Ruth finally forgiving them or did it have to do with finally getting enough good pitching, hitting, and catching the right breaks at the right time? I'm voting for the latter.
Same thing with the Chicago Cubs. They've had some very good teams since they last won a title during Teddy's Roosevelt's tenure (1908), but somebody else always seemed to be just a little bit better. Did you ever hear people trashing the Cubs' ownership? Not me.
But this is about the Lions. Not that long ago guys like Martin Mathew and Tom Lewand were catching a lot of flak. Near as I can tell, Mayhew serves as an underboss of the Ford family. He's in charge of football operations. Lewand's the bookkeeper. He negotiates contracts and other business deals. Mr. Lewand well knows the meaning of the word "cap". Then there's head coach Jim Schwartz, who's seat was getting warmer and warmer up until last December when the Lions started winning.
Winning seems to solve everything. The Fords, Mayhew and Lewand never get mentioned anymore, Schwartz is suddenly a great coach, and the Lions are not only the talk of Detroit, but of the country. Everybody's sitting up and taking notice.
Was it magic? No. Did Edsel reach out from his grave and finally bless these boys? I doubt it.
Combine a strong-armed quarterback that's finally healthy, has enough experience and smarts to read defenses, can make throws on time and accurately, with a freak wide receiver, reminiscent of Randy Moss. Throw it up and he'll go get it. The offensive line isn't so hot, nor is the running game. The other receivers are decent, but not spectacular, and the tight ends seem to be hit and miss. Take away the "Megatron", one Calvin Johnson, and all of this changes in a very large and bad way for the Lions. But as long as he's there....
Toss in a ferocious defensive line. Though the line-backing corps may be average, and the secondary has some issues, the guys up front can hide a lot of those weaknesses if they're stuffing the run and have the opposing QB running for his life on pass plays.
Add a place-kicker that, despite his age, can still consistently boot the ball through the uprights from 50 yards out.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for a couple years, and guess what? Instant contender.
Yet maybe an even more sinister curse is still there. The Lions never used to have expectations. Now they do. What could be worse than raising them -- only to have them trashed?
OK, Lion's fans, be honest. Who do you think is the one team right now that is likely superior to yours? Unlike the Lions' first 5 opponents, they don't fold up their tent at halftime, but get stronger as the game goes on. They're also the defending Super Bowl champions.
And guess what division they happen to play in? I hope they're both undefeated going into the Thanksgiving day game. The Chicago Bears coming to Detroit for Monday Night Football would be a minor footnote compared to THAT scenario.
Regardless, RV was right. It was never about the Fords.
Unless, of course, something goes horribly wrong and the Lions lose the next 10 games in a row and get blown out 49-0 at Lambeau Field in the finale.
I doubt that's going to happen, and certainly hope not. I don't want to have to research that whole Edsel thing again.