November 26, 2008

Why the Detroit Lions must go 0-16

I really, really want the Lions to go 0-16 this season. And it’s not like I’m just lusting for a trainwreck, with some sort of poke-it-while-it-dies morbid curiosity. I have legitimate reasons.

First, if you don’t follow the NFL, know this: For the last thirty seasons, NFL teams have played sixteen games each season. No one has ever lost all sixteen (though before the sixteen-game era, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14). A few have lost 15, and a few more have lost 14. But the Lions are very, very bad, and they might just be the first to lose all sixteen. And I for one, really really really want to see them do it. I might write them a letter.

There are obvious reasons why a fan would, at this point in the season, want to see their team lose. The most obvious and beneficial is that each year, the NFL feels sorry for the most awful teams and typically gives them the first pick of the college players. So if the Lions go 0-16, we’ll get to see them grab a promising player, give them lots of money, and firmly dash their hopes of Super Bowl glory.

And as for doing something no one’s ever done - it’s always fun to see your team break new ground. We’d be pioneers – of suckiness, but pioneers nonetheless. We’d make history. We’d become the yardstick for awful teams. In the future when teams are pretty bad, the debate will be, “Yes, they’re bad, but are they 2008 Lions bad?” Think of it this way: It’s an epochal change. Right now, it’s an impossibility. If we can pull this off, we’ll live in a post-0-and-16 world. In an 0-and-16 world, anything can happen. Including, maybe, such an outrageous thing as the Lions making the playoffs.

And the only way that can happen is if the Lions somehow hit rock bottom first. For now, things have been bad, but they’ve always been able to get worse. We’ve been a 2-14 team. Twice, even. And the fans have always been able to say, “It could be worse.” Going 1-15 would be bad. But it still wouldn’t the wake-up-in-the-gutter moment we need to turn things around. And the only way things change is if we get a season full of losses. Imagine: A whole season, a homogenous batch of losing. Perfection.

Fans have been hoping for this for a while, the point at which someone realizes what they’re doing isn’t working and hasn’t for some time, and maybe they need a new approach. I don’t have any suggestions for that. I don’t run football teams. I just watch football and hope my team wins, wait for drama and shoot-outs, 70-yard touchdown passes, fumbles picked up by linemen and chugged into the endzone, defenders clinging to his ankles. And someday, the playoffs. Or maybe a Super bowl.

Maybe 0-16 gets us there. Or maybe we’re mired in the mess for a few more decades. I dunno. But I can hope. Hope. Maybe Obama can fix them. For now, though, to not go 0-16 would be a disappointment. This just becomes another losing season like the ones before where we can say, it could be worse.

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