Maybe you’ve heard: Detroit is a big sports town. An economic-development expert with the city once told me that’s both a blessing and curse, mostly in the favor of fans. People who like to watch sports have their favorites, but to some hard-to-quantify extent a major-league franchise lifts all boats. You can see this in my hometown of Columbus, which for years has tracked a steady course of economic growth and prosperity to eclipse Cleveland and Cincinnati, but sports-wise, was stuck with Ohio State University. When they finally got a team, it was hockey, and an expansion team with the dumbest name in the league (the Blue Jackets? Huh?) but no matter — corporations finally had a place to buy luxury boxes, there was suddenly an Arena District to fill with yuppie bars, and the city was able to claim a little bit of big-league glory for itself.
Detroit, meanwhile, is a dying city with terrible prospects, but still manages to support four major-league sports, and not only that, they’re usually competitive in three of them. Fans here are spoiled enough that some don’t even start paying attention until the Wings, Pistons or Tigers are contending for a championship.
And then there’s the Lions. The worst team in pro football.
They have a beautiful new stadium downtown, legions of fans who buy tickets and suffer with them year after year. Their Thanksgiving Day home game is a centerpiece of the local celebration. And yet, their insistence on reaching and staying at the very bottom of the league appears unmatched. Take the season opener this past Sunday in Atlanta, previously thought to be the worst team in the league. There’s nothing like the facts to punch up a good sports column, I always say:
Atlanta started a rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan, in the opener Sunday, and all he did was complete a 62-yard touchdown pass on his first throw. From there, it actually got worse for the Lions, if you can believe that. …Besides a new quarterback, the Falcons had a new coach and a tough new runner, Michael Turner. All Turner did was run 66 yards for a touchdown on the game’s second possession. He finished with 220 yards, a team record. The Falcons finished with 318 yards rushing, a team record.
Hey, don’t ever suggest the Lions aren’t capable of making history.
That’s Bob Wojnowski of the News. Here’s Michael Rosenberg in the Freep:
What is it like to be Rod Marinelli these days? Imagine putting a group of engineers together to build an airplane. You tell them it might not be the best airplane in the world. It doesn’t have to be as big as a 747 or as fast as the Concorde, but it will run on time and use fuel efficiently and get you where you want to go. Then, on the day of its first flight, you go out on the tarmac and find … a unicycle.
A day after his team lost, 34-21, to the lowly Atlanta Falcons, Marinelli stood by his team. Someday soon, he said, that unicycle will fly.
Mitch Albom just stomped his little foot on the ground like Rumpelstiltskin.
There’s a feisty movement around here called Fire Millen, aimed at guess-what for the team’s president, Matt Millen. Mainly they spread digital graffiti; when they’re in full cry, every story on the Freep website, no matter what it’s about, has at least one “Fire Millen!” in the comments. Why he hasn’t been fired, particularly after weeks like this, remains a mystery. JohnC, who follows sports, says it’s because old Mr. Ford (William Clay, Jr.), who owns the team, doesn’t really care about it. Possible. Rich folk love to throw their money away on losing causes, but at some point you’d think they were capable of being embarrassed, but maybe not.
Meanwhile, Kate has learned the truth, and every time we drive down I-75 past Ford Field, she says, “Home of the losers!”
Maybe we can get Thanksgiving tickets this year.
Via Metafilter, a guy who makes a list of 50 things he always wanted to do, quits his job and vows he can’t go home until he completes the list. He’s at 44 after more than a year. Someone help this guy ride a horse through a covered bridge so he can get to 45, ‘k?
It’s been a while since I’ve visited Lifehacker, the site that teaches you a few neat tricks (not, I regret to say, how to ride a horse through a covered bridge). Today: How to fold a napkin around a wine bottle so you don’t drip on the tablecloth, and the legitimate — i.e., non-porn — uses for the Incognito mode in Google Chrome.
Time for the gym.
Talk Fight amongst yourselves.