Even though the infamous Sports Illustrated "cover jinx" has seemingly reached out yet again and zapped another victim (the Detroit Lions were 5-0 before they made the cover, and have been beat twice at home since), at least long-suffering Lions' fans finally have a decent team to cheer for.
3 years ago that team was a laughing stock and the punch line of many a joke as they stumbled and bumbled their way through an 0-16 season. Guys like Leno and Letterman routinely used them as fodder for punch lines and audiences roared with approval. Nothing could be worse than that, right?
My, how times have changed. Turns out maybe those Lions weren't the worst team ever afterall. That dubious honor might well go to this year's version of the Indianapolis Colts. They're beyond bad. They're terrible.
The Colts can't run the ball, and none of their once renowned receiver corps seems to be able to get "open".
Dwight Freeney, a former dominant pass rushing defensive end, is routinely blocked, the other D linemen and linebackers might as well be cardboard cut-outs, and their secondary appears clueless.
The Drew Brees led New Orleans Saints just went up and down the field on them in a 62-7 beatdown and it likely would have been worse if they hadn't pulled the A-team off the field as a show of mercy. It's rare that an NFL team scores over 50 points, but 60 and counting is ridiculous. Not even the 2008 Lions ever got lit up like that.
Yeah, but Peyton Manning is injured, you say? True, but Peyton never was much of a runner, and he sure as hell couldn't play defense. 62-7 sounds like a score you might expect from Enormous State University playing Northwest Creampuff A&M -- not an NFL game. Even Peyton on his best day couldn't compensate for that.
Manning suffered a serious neck injury a while back, and has since had 2 surgeries to repair it. He's likely out for the remainder of this season. That begs the question -- why would he want to come back?
His chase for Brett Favre's all-time consecutive starts as a QB is history. He's been the NFL MVP, been to the Super Bowl and won it, and was the MVP there, as well. If he never plays another game, he's a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer. Peyton has more money than he could ever possibly spend, and if that's not good enough, there's little doubt certain companies will accommodate him with added income doing more TV ads for big bucks. Some of those spots he's done before are pretty funny. Better yet, they don't involve blitzing linebackers trying to take his head off. Right now, Peyton's head sits atop a shaky foundation and a disaster could be one play away. And guess what? Opposing defenders don't care. They'll hit him as hard and as often as possible. Perhaps Plaxico Burress, now of the New York Jets, said it best. "We know what we signed up for".
Nevertheless, take heart, Lions fans. While you finally have a good team to root for, something else might be happening that could help erase another bad memory. Indy might well be on it's way to an 0-16 season themselves, so you won't be the only ones that had to go through it.
It gets better. The Colts have hired former Ohio State buckeye head coach Jim Tressel as a consultant. What's he consulting on? Tattoos? How to trash a once mighty program? That would seem to fit. Beats me -- but at least he's in Indianapolis and not Detroit. And you thought Matt Millen was bad.
Count your blessings.