My oh my. How quickly things can change. After the Detroit Lions posted an improbable 10-6 regular season record during their 2011 campaign, the TV network execs, in conjunction with the NFL, evidently jumped face first with mouths wide open into the same hog trough of kool-aid the Lions' fans and their local reporters had been chugging for decades. FINALLY, they had an excuse to showcase an historically sad-sack franchise in prime time.
And showcase them they did. After all those years of the Lions being treated like proverbial dysfunctional red-headed stepchildren, which BTW they had earned every bit of, they were going to get their chance to strut their stuff on national TV.
Sure, they'd always had their Thanksgiving day game since forever (yours truly doesn't know how that originally came about, but suspects it had something to do with honoring turkeys) but this was different. The Lions were scheduled for 4 other national TV games. Movin' on up to the east side. Gettin' a piece of the pie -- and all that.
At the time, Lions' ever all-knowing receiver Nate Burleson said, " It just shows people want to see us. We're starting to make a splash. People are starting to respect the direction this organization is headed in".
Indeed, the Lions got two Sunday night games. Week 2 in San Fran -- where they got trashed. Week 14 against the Packers. Same thing.
Also two Monday night football games -- sort of. In Week 7 against the Bears on MNF, they lost again. Week 16 against the Falcons was supposed to be a Monday night game, but that would have fallen on Christmas Eve. Bad idea. So the NFL/TV folks, in their infinite wisdom, came up with an even better plan. Have the Lions and Falcons play on Saturday night, Dec, 22. A regular season NFL game on Saturday night would be a national showcase indeed. The Lions got trashed again.
When all was said and done, the Lions had gone into yet another one of their death spirals and finished the regular season at 4-12. They'd made a splash alright, like a cinder block dropped out of an airplane would in the middle of the ocean-- but guess where it's going to wind up?
After having suffered the indignity of all that, ask yourself a question, and give yourself an honest answer. If you were a TV network exec, where ratings are second only to God -- maybe -- that has to answer to deep-pocketed sponsors, and were sitting in a room with NFL honchos planning out which teams are going to be showcased next year on prime time national broadcasts -- would the Lions even be in the conversation? Or would you recommend returning them to their former stepchild status? Out of sight, out of mind, etc.
Other than turkey day, yours truly is thinking the Honolulu blue and silver puddy-tats can once again kiss prime-time goodbye for the foreseeable future.
When NFL fans across the country tune into a prime time game, they want to see two good teams battling it out. Not one good one taking the field against a clown act, although they can be comical at times.
There's a difference, and the people in charge of such things notice.