by | Dec 28, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

We stink.

That’s what’s left to brag about, Mr. Ford.

We’re the worst. We made history. We scraped bottom. Nobody does losing better than us. Those are boasts actually being hollered, Mr. Ford, because when your football team drops below bad, below terrible, below the talent, organization and performance level of every other team in the NFL, that’s all that you have left to get excited about.

Perfect Awfulness.

So this afternoon – as your 0-15 team gives it one last try on a wintry Lambeau Field in Green Bay – you stand on the brink of being forever remembered as the captain of the Titanic, the commander of the Hindenburg, the man at the helm of the biggest crash in the history of professional football.

And some Detroiters are rooting for it.

That should make you more ashamed than anything, Mr. Ford, because if there were any pride left in this football town, you wouldn’t hear that. You wouldn’t hear exultations of “lose, lose, lose.” No one wants to be remembered as the worst ever.

Unless it’s the only thing to remember you by. Football should be a pleasant escape

And after today, if the Lions stay true to form, it will be. The worst ever. Next year: the worst ever. Five years from now: the worst ever. The tag never leaves. Go ask Tampa Bay.

And you know what? You’ve earned it.

In fact, we’re surprised it didn’t come sooner.

For decades, you have lorded over a franchise that has distinguished itself only through ineptitude. Blown chances. Stupid draft picks. The wrong coaches. Horrible general managers. We have tried to laugh it off. Shrug it off. Hope it off. But the fact is you had one player in the last 20 years anyone wanted to see, Barry Sanders, and he walked away from the game rather than continue working for you. Actually gave money back.

Think about that.

Most owners would be shamed into some kind of reflection. Maybe run to a monastery and figure out what they’re doing wrong. Not you. You just keep on your pattern of popping up once in a blue moon, shrugging things off, then adopting your family’s famous philosophy: “Never complain, never explain.”

That might work for a car company, but it’s no way to run a sports franchise. Not if you want fans to support you. You can’t treat ticket buyers like mechanical peasants. A sports team is not a widget. It’s a source of civic pride. It’s a discussion, a rallying point, a bright spot in a tough day.

Ironically, the car business – your business – has brought great hardship and depression to the populace. A football team that, for a few hours on Sunday afternoons, gave the locals something to cheer for, could have been a pleasant escape.

Instead, Sunday is worse than Monday.

Heck, Sundays make Mondays look good. How about an acknowledgement of guilt?

If they fail today, Mr. Ford, if the Packers beat the Lions as they always do at Lambeau, then yes, it is on the players, and yes, it is on the coaches, and yes, it is on Matt Millen, even though he has long since cleaned out his office. The season is on them.

But the reason is on you.

You are the constant. You are the source. All bad decisions begin with you and trickle down. If you had any pride as a football owner, when this game is over, you would step to the 50-yard line, ask for a microphone and announce to the world, “I’m sorry. I’m just not good at this. I’ve had 44 years, we’ve won one playoff game, and now my legacy is the losingest single season in NFL history. Enough. I am turning over the reins to people who know better. Forgive me for the indifference I have shown all these years. I hope Detroit will soon get the winner it deserves.”

Hey. It’s a fantasy. But so is winning a game.

And as we count down to kickoff, neither seems likely to happen.


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