In a first, and presumably one-time deal, the honchos at NASCAR made an exception to their "Chase" format. Normally the top 10 cars in points after 26 races, plus two "wild-cards" qualify for NASCAR's version of the playoffs -- a 10 race shootout.
But NASCAR smelled a rat this year. Through no fault of his own, Jeff "Wonder Boy" Gordon failed to make the Chase by the slimmest of margins. Though they couldn't point to anything conclusive, NASCAR huddled up and determined Gordon had been put at a disadvantage in recent races. This likely had to do with monitored radio communications between certain teams and their drivers, shady deals possibly being struck with other teams for future "favors", a mysterious spin-out on the track for no apparent reason, and a couple other things demed suspicious that allegedly affected who would narrowly make the Chase, and who would be left out.
So when all was said and done, NASCAR decided to make an exception, creating a 3rd wild card spot so Gordon would be in the Chase after all. Again, this was because NASCAR had determined that other forces had unfairly conspired which resulted in Gordon not originally qualifying.
Well then. What if that same line of reasoning had been applied to the Detroit Lions last year?
After posting a regular season record of 4-12, they fell just a bit short of making the NFL's version of the Chase.
But wait a minute. Perhaps other evil forces plotted and schemed as well to put the Honolulu blue and silver at an unfair disadvantage.
All those dropped passes, fumbles, and missed tackles just didn't seem logical. Surely there was a conspiracy afoot. It couldn't have been the Lions' fault.
Head coach Jim Schwartz's repeated mind-boggling game mismanagement, including the ultimate debacle against Houston on Thanksgiving Day when he threw a red flag that ultimately cost his team a win? Schwartz himself would later say he knew the rule, but did it anyway. Well gee. That was not normal behavior. Perhaps Schwartz was posssessed by some sort of demon. Regardless, it couldn't be blamed on Schwartz. The devil made him do it.
For that matter, the Lions seemed to be in a sort of competition with the state of Michigan. Between penalty flags and orange traffic barrels -- who could cause the most groans, frustration, and forehead slaps from Michiganders? It was nip and tuck there for a while. Nevertheless, all those yellow hankies were too much for coincidence. No professional football team could possibly be that undisciplined. Obviously, the officials on the field have conspired against the Lions for decades. That's not fair.
So, like Jeff Gordon, the Lions were put at a disadvantage last year. If Roger Goodell and his NFL honchos had had any sense of fair play -- they would have made an exception for the Lions last year as well, by creating another wild card spot of their own.
4-12 might have looked bad on paper -- but hey -- when so many other evil forces in the universe had come together against them -- it's just not fair that the Lions weren't allowed into the playoffs.
Henceforth, in the name of truth, mom, apple pie, the American way, and maybe even Oprah, the Lions should receive an automatic bid into the playoffs -- regardless of their record. Better yet, given all the misery they and their fans have suffered over the decades -- the Lions should be granted a first round "bye" in perpetuity when the NFL Chase starts every year. It's the least that can be done to atone for all the injustices inflicted upon them in the past.
That said, please excuse me now -- because I have to go.......