Sunday, December 28, 2008

Utter Rubbish

It is offensive to the word "bad" to describe the 2008 installment of the Detroit Lions as, well, "bad."

For see, bad is not terrible. Bad is not atrocious. Bad is not "Thee worst." (And I was very much inclined to add more than two "E's" there, because it needs to be as emphasized as possible.)

Bad is the year that the Cincinnati Bengals had. Bad is the play of the St.Louis Rams all season. Bad is what the Seattle Seahawks had to endure (and "brutal" is the word for the whole sports year in the Seattle sports fan had to live in).

Bad is 6-10, 5-11, 4-12. Very bad is 3-13, 2-14, 1-15.

But "bad" or even "brutal" would not be sufficient enough to describe what was witnessed this year from the performances of the Detroit Lions. In their 75th year of existence, they performed lower than all expansions teams, then all bad teams, then even the all time losing teams of losing teams.

"Bad", "Brutal", and even "Losers" just aren't the words to label this inept amalgamation of freight.

"Utter rubbish" is what they are. "Utter rubbish" is what 0-16 is.

I could hear Dennis Green say this now:"They are not what we thought they were. And they were never let off the hook."

For the Lions though, they never even got on the hook.

In this ultimate age of parody in the National Football League, you would never expect that this could happen anymore after it transpired with Tampa Bay in 1985. The league has too many competitors, and has too many prideful individuals to have even one team go winless. That just can't happen.

But damn those "what should be's" in both life and sports, for that is why the games are played and the lives are lived. The humiliation either will happen or not, and in this rare, shocking case, it surly did happen.

From Getty Images(These bailout signs were common as the forgettable season came to a close)
Bless Ron Marinelli soul, because he may never coach again ever. Not in the NFL, not in the CFL, not even in High School All-American games. Because he tried hard to get his team that one feeling of happiness. that one feeling of relief not present at all throughout any course of the season. That relief of the misery of loss after loss after 13 more losses looked realistic.

They battled back to tie the score with Green Bay 14-14 going into the fourth quarter. It seemed that, for one day, in the last day of the season, the last chance to just be " very bad", that they would be gladly accept "very bad." How being tied heading into the final 15 minutes of the year at 0-15 was the high point of the ever changing nadirs surrounding the 2008 Lions is truly unbelievable. And it is further indicative of how memorable their futility will forever be.

Just about as baffling is how a rookie third round running back somehow became the leader of this team , as if this unit could even have leaders on its roster. And if it does have leaders, I guess having a rookie be one represents the overall makeup for those to see. (Unless it's Matt Ryan, and just to double check. Nope, it isn't).

Kevin Smith, who earlier in the week rightfully dismissed his thousand yard season as meaningless compared to the full spectrum of his first year, really tried hard to avoid 0-16 too. Bless his soul.

"This offseason won't be much hanging out for me," he said. "I'm gonna work to be the best back in the NFL and hopefully get my team on the path to the Super Bowl. We're 0-16. We made history. My eye's on the Super Bowl next."

Fitting that Smith said this,dedicating himself to being apart of a total 180 reversal for this team. Because he did one of the dumbest things ever in the history of the league. Smith decided it was in his best interest to taunt on the field in the 4th quarter. A player, on an 0-15 team, with a chance to go 0-16, taunting?

That's more idiotic than not wanting to kiss your spouse after you said, "I do."

And what do you know? That taunting led to a penalty being called on him, hurting the chances of a miracle win. On the next play, the very next play, Dan Orlovsky (blessed his soul too, because he tried as hard as he could, he really did) threw an interception to Nick Collins to basically bring out columns such as this one trying to comprehend the collage of terrible an 0-16 team can actually produce.

"It was a very bad, selfish decision," Smith said. "I let my emotions get the best of me. It was tough, but it is no excuse."

But even if it was no excuse, I guess it is the norm for a team that is "utter rubbish." I guess it is common for a team to allow not only two 100 yard rushing performances, but two 100 yard receiving performances in a single game. I guess it is the staple for a team to embarrasses its prideful and blue collar city more than its disgrace of a former mayor or its out of touch, moronic car company CEO's.
Photo from the Associated Press (One of the lone bright spots can't send any light on the darkest of seasons)
So egregious are the Lions, that their season had to be taken into political context. 1-15 teams can't even do that.

All of the bailout signs from those fans trying to find any solace in this, need I say more?

Sadly, I have to, because the disbelief of how "utterly rubbish" they are will be in the minds of all of us for a long time. If you find it shocking that there would be any leaders on this team, then the question of who the MVP is for this bunch is even scarier.

The Lions fans getting that nod? With those bailout signs and even associating themselves with this organization after what has transpired, they should be unanimous choices. But the fans don't even deserve that (though refunds is another matter). Sadly, giving the kicker this award is fitting.

That kicker, 17 year veteran Jason Hanson, please bless his soul. And then bless it some more, because he really really did try to avoid 0-16. His case is better than anyone elses.

In his 22 field goal attempts this year, he only missed one. He was 8 for 8 from over 50 yards. And for that, he is the standout performer of the 2008 Detroit Lions. He couldn't have picked a more awful time to have an All Pro like year.

"It's a bummer because I've put together one of my best years ever, but it gets lost in the season. And I understand why," Hanson said.

Then it really hit, the fact that they were more than bad, more than "very bad."

"It's surreal to be 0-16 with guys you care about; guys that I've seen work hard," he said. "I've seen years past where we've had better records and we've been way worse, but who cares? Nobody cares. All of us have our names on this."

Jason Hanson, the veteran place kicker of the 2008 Detroit Lions, the only man on this team who was nearly flawless this year , performed better than Smith, Orlovsky, Marinelli, and everyone else associated with the Detroit Lions did.

But when you are the best on a winless team, only your close ones will try and not lump you with the fact your accomplishments really mean nothing. And even they, deep inside, may feel the same.

Because there's nothing good at the end of the day for an 0-16 team. And there's nothing even bad about an 0-16 team.

For "bad" would be a massive understatement for how pitiful the 2008 Detroit Lions were this year. For only this pitiful 0-16 team can be labeled as "utter rubbish."
Photo from Getty Images (Thankfully, they won't be seen until next year)