It's sadly comical how they fall for it every year. "They" would be Detroit Lions fans and their ever gullible media that continues to get them drunk on the same kool-aid season, after season, after season. Decades now.
It would be a bit like expecting Old Yeller to not die at the end of the movie, or replays showing Hillary winning the last presidential election. No matter how much one watches it and hopes for a different outcome, the result is always going to be the same. BTW, isn't such behavior the classical definition of "insanity"?
Yet the line most often used, that never seems to fail, is "these are not the same old Lions". And the suckers buy it. Again. But are they indeed the same old Lions? Let's examine it a little further.
They're still owned by a Ford, but not the late William Clay. No, his 91 year old widow Martha is now in charge, along with some help from their daughters. It is entirely possible, perhaps probable, that they know about as much about the intricacies of pro football as your average plumber knows about brain surgery. The only son, Bill Jr., is too busy running the Ford car company to dabble much in the football operations anymore. Lest we forget, when he tried that, Junior thought Matt Millen would be a savior for the Lions and talked his dad into hiring him to run the show -- for eight -- count em -- EIGHT long and dismal years. Yes sir, a chip off the old Edsel, that Billie.
These days, in their infinite wisdom, the Fords have a new president of the Lions. One Rod Wood, an estate planner by trade. That would lead to the obvious question -- how, pray tell, can a guy with that background possibly know the first thing about overseeing an NFL franchise?
Combine such clueless front offices with many clown coaches over the years, and there you go. A recipe for the many disasters that have befallen the woeful Lions over the decades.
But now they had yet another chance to redeem themselves in a playoff game at Seattle. Things didn't look good going in. The Lions have historically not played well on the road, and particularly so at outdoor venues. Seattle would offer both.
After a down, then up regular season, the Lions finished with a whimper losing their last three games. It should be noted that while the Lions had an overall easy schedule, they did have to play four games against teams that would wind up making the playoffs. They lost every one of them. Two to the Packers, and one apiece to the NY Giants and Dallas Cowboys. If nothing else, the Seahawks obviously were another playoff team. Understandably, the bookies had the Lions as 8 point underdogs, a huge margin in the NFL. Point spreads are rarely that high.
To boot, the Lions had won a grand total of one playoff game since Super Bowls began a half century ago. A 1-9 total record. Further, they are one of only four teams to have never made an appearance in the Super Bowl, let alone win it. The other three are Jacksonville, Houston, and the (new) Cleveland Browns, notably all expansion teams who didn't even exist when the early Super Bowls were being contested.
The Lions haven't been exactly kind to themselves on another front either. The draft. No one would doubt the Cowboys had a wildly successful draft last spring. First round pick Ezekiel Elliott is leading the league in rushing, and even later round pick Dak Prescott has proven himself to be a wunderkind taking over for injured quarterback Tony Romo. Not long ago, the Lions first choice was an offensive tackle -- one Reilly Reiff -- who couldn't start. Needless to say, the difference is glaring.
After a brilliant, if somewhat shortened career, former Lion Calvin "Megatron" Johnson decided to walk away and retire after last season. CJ had shed blood, sweat, and no doubt tears attempting to help the Lions for ten years, not to mention putting up eye-popping individual receiving stats, but never once got to experience the taste of winning a single playoff game.
The same could be said for Barry Sanders almost two decades ago. Though he's now rightfully enshrined in the NFL's Hall of Fame, he finally wearied of their losing ways and took an early hike as well. This, while having several potential outstanding seasons still in front of him. At that, BS is #3 on the all-time NFL career rushing list, but barring injury and had he played out the string, Sanders likely would have put the mark so far out of sight it would never be remotely approached again. Sanders, a proud but humble man, just couldn't take the losing culture any more. Some things in life are just more important.
To be sure, the Lions brought in one Bob Quinn, a former scouting guru for the New England Patriots. As much as the Lions have lost -- the Patriots have won, at least in recent times. A fantastic move -- right? Not so fast. As the general manager, one of the typical duties is the hiring and firing of head coaches. It made sense that he would want his "own man" at the helm on the field. But this was not to be. The above-mentioned Martha had taken a personal liking to current coach Jim Caldwell. The same guy who's track record shows he had been a good coordinator under other successful head coaches elsewhere around the league, but was over his head when he assumed field command himself. The upshot? What the owner wants -- the owner gets. So Caldwell it was, with Quinn basically hamstrung right off the bat. Put another way, what good did it do to bring in a fresh new mind from an elite organization if he didn't have free rein to do his job in full? This was a typical Lions wrong-thinking gambit.
On to the game in Seattle. They could win, quoth the Lions faithful, as they chugged another fifth of kool-aid. Their latest hero, one Matthew Stafford, could lead the team to victory. Indeed, like Calvin Johnson, Stafford has put up some gaudy passing statistics, and led several improbable come back from behind drives to win games earlier this season.
Alas, Stafford and the Detroit offense wouldn't score a single touchdown against the Seahawks, settling for two measly field goals in a 26-6 beatdown. Make that a 1-10 playoff record and add another year since their last and only playoff victory (now 26 and counting) while the Super Bowl -- as if -- drought continues as well.
During the game the Lions pulled some of their usual bone-headed stunts. Lots of stupid penalties, including a few "what the hell are you thinking out there?" personal fouls.
Though the game was all, but not quite out of reach in the fourth quarter, the duh Lions struck again. With all three of their time-outs still remaining, the Lions called one with 4:25 still left on the clock. But wait a minute. A Seattle player had been shaken up and was down. The clock would have stopped anyway. So the Lions had blown a time out for no reason whatsoever. Less than a minute elapsed on the game clock before they had found a way to use up their remaining two as well. At this point, a phrase mentioned above bears repeating. What the hell are you thinking out there? Hello Caldwell? Anybody home?
And here's the best part when it comes to shooting themselves in the foot again. Before this game was even played, coming on the heels of three straight not-so-close losses to end the regular season on a decided whimper, incredibly the Lions added a year to Jim Caldwell's contract. He'll be back next year. Hey Bob Quinn. Was this your call? That's hard to believe unless his short time in Detroit has caused his brain to malfunction. (Hmm. That's possible.) Or did Martha and her happy estate planning Rod order it from on high, thereby making it as difficult as possible to succeed in his GM position? This too, would be typical SOP for the Lions. Strive for success while putting as many obstacles in front of themselves as they can.
Yet despite their usual foibles and the predictable outcome of the game against the Seahawks, perhaps something good came out of all this.
You know those football sheets where you pick squares and hope the last two numbers of the final score tally with the numbers you were given at random? Zero is always good. So are four and seven. Eight, nine and five, not so much.
But it never -- ever -- comes up 6 and 6. This game did, the oddness of which is somehow fitting of a Lions game. So just when somebody thought they had a sure loser on the sheet, BAM, they're now a very surprised winner.
Yours truly chuckled when he saw a Detroit area scribe say (before the game) that these are not the same Super Bowl winning Seahawks from a few years ago. Perhaps not. But then they argued that these are not the "same old Lions" either.
Well now. As it turned out, nothing could be further from the stark reality of it all. The puddy-tats are very much the
How could anybody that possessed the capacity of even semi-objective thinking have possibly have deemed them otherwise?
Sadly, it's a sure bet the suckers will be back yet again next year hoping for a different outcome. But no, Old Yeller and Hillary aren't going to be resurrected either.
You'd think they'd get that by now. I mean, how many times does one have to get hit in the head with a hammer before they figure out that whatever they're doing isn't a good idea?
Some things just aren't meant to be, and all the faith and blind hope in the world isn't going to change it.
It's the Detroit Lions.
Poof. Down they go again.