by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

A lot of people will be rooting for the Lions to beat the Washington Redskins today, and for many reasons.

Some say it’s only fair, since Washington goes to the Super Bowl year after year, while Detroit sits home, waiting for the auto show to open.

Others think it would teach a lesson to Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, so tunnel-visioned about his job — sleeping at the stadium much of the week — that he recently asked an aide whether President Truman needed tickets.

Some folks want Detroit to win so they can see Barry Sanders in a Super Bowl, while others feel it would be a nice tribute to Mike Utley, the paralyzed Lions lineman to whom this season is dedicated.

All of these are fine reasons for the Lions to win the NFC championship today.

I have a better reason.

It’s better for the country.

Let me explain. Washington, D.C., as you know, is our capital. It is where all the major thinking, debating, legislating, palm-greasing, money-laundering and bed-hopping that shapes this nation takes place.

It is hard enough for a congressman to decide which secret fund to stash the money in without distracting him with football.

And you can imagine the problems if, in the middle of a sexual romp with his secretary, the senator tries to turn up the TV volume.

On top of that, we must worry about our poor vice president, who can’t possibly concentrate on important matters, such as where he left his brain, when a football game is blaring in the background.

And what about the president? You want to add the burden of rooting for the home team to his already busy agenda? Why, it’s enough to make a man sick to his stomach!

Wait. He did that already.

And then comes Washington itself. D.C. is No. 1 in ego

It has long been known that Washington is the most self- bloated city in America. It is much smaller than New York, much less hip than LA, much less busy than Chicago and much less pretty than San Francisco — but to go there and talk to the people, you would think that Washington was on one level, and the rest of the world could only be reached by the Nina, the Pinta or the Santa Maria.

Washington is infatuated with its own power. To the people there, who goes to which black tie party is far more important than anything going on in the Midwest, South, Southwest or Northwest, which are referred to in Washington as
“the boonies.”

The only thing more important to Washingtonians than themselves is their football team.

When the Redskins play, the entire city comes to a halt. Senators, congressmen, lobbyists, aides, all are glued to their TV sets — those who couldn’t bribe someone for tickets. In fact it was because of the Redskins that Congress enacted the 72-hour blackout rule in the first place. I don’t want to say our government closes down for a football game, but if the Iraqis ever figure out what time kickoff is, we’re in deep trouble.

Let me give you an idea of how crazy it gets: The night Joe Theismann broke his leg on “Monday Night Football,” a Washington TV station did live reports at 2 a.m. from the hospital. Theismann’s condition was the lead story on all three channels the next day — despite the fact that the SALT talks were taking place in Geneva.

Every game at RFK Stadium features the Hogettes, a group of supposedly powerful Washington men who dress up in pig snouts. Even the normally staid Washington Post — which is still patting itself on the back for Watergate — turns into a cheerleading rag sheet when it comes to the Skins.

Last October, a D.C. TV station willingly gave up the seventh game of the World Series — in order to show a regular season Redskins game. You may recall how Richard Nixon took time from his busy schedule of erasing tapes to diagram several plays for the home boys.

This is normal for Washington.

Something must be done. Let officials get back to . . . work

Which is where the Lions come in. Think of the service they could do this country by winning.

Instead of spending the next two weeks in a shameless rush to get Super Bowl tickets, our elected officials could focus on pressing issues, such as figuring out who is in charge of Russia.

And instead of diagramming plays, our government could tackle important tasks, such as pulling our banks from under water.

So you can see, I have no selfish reasons for wanting the Lions to win today. It has nothing to do with living here, or having suffered through years when Silverdome security guards were finer athletes than Lions players.

No, I want them to win so that our lawmakers, all the way up to the president, can forget about football and return to the kind of government action that makes us proud.

Like throwing up under the table.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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