Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Another One Bites the Dust

Professional athletes and those who manage them are interesting specimens. The NFL, like most professional sports leagues, represents the best of the best. Most people who make it to this level brim with self-confidence. Those who excel at this level exude a self-confidence so great that they feel they can succeed at virtually any goal they choose within their profession.

As someone who has grown up and lived in southeast Michigan my entire life, I've had a front row seat to the black hole that is the Detroit Lions.  This isn't a "dry spell". This isn't an incompetent management team. This is a sixty year tradition of failure and incompetence. Presidents, generations and eras have whizzed by like white lines on the highway, and through it all, the baton of ineptitude has been handed down from one regime to the next. True, the Lions did reach the NFC championship game in 1991, but I liken it to a football version of the Robin Williams movie Awakenings, where the Lions emerged from a decades-long fog, resembled an NFL team for a fleeting moment, and then all-too-quickly slipped back into the abyss.

Matt Millen, a man with a very respectable career as a player became arguably the worst general manager in U.S. pro-sports history. Steve Mariucci was a successful coach with the San Francisco 49ers. He didn't stand a chance. Marty Morninwheg, a highly touted offensive coordinator fell to pieces as the head coach of the Honolulu Blue and Silver but has since reclaimed respectability as an OC. The same fate befell Rod Marinelli on the other side of the ball.  These last two men escaped with their careers in tact. Most don't fare so well.

Time and again, men full of confidence and bravado have strode into town, blinded by their own sense of ability to the history of this organization and the plight of its fan base... utterly unaware of the magnitude of the force they were up against. Each left shaken, barely a shell of their former selves.

Last winter as the Philadelphia Eagles battled their way to a Super Bowl victory, the New England Patriot defense seemed to uncharacteristically stumble. The camera closed in on defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. I am sure Patricia was absolutely befuddled as to what was happening to his defense. It was no mystery to me. It was obvious. Patricia had already been tapped by the Detroit Lions to take the helm in the 2018-2019 season. How could Patricia have known that the curse of the Lions was already at work during Super Bowl LII? He couldn't have, but he would learn

Last night, September 10, 2018, the Lions faced off against the rebuilding New York Jets in the comfy confines of Ford Field. After an initial pick-six off rookie quarterback Same Darnold, the Jets never looked back. One touchdown after another, one interception after another, one special teams blunder after another and Patricia stood on the sideline, unable to move. This burly bear of a man, sporting a beard any Harley rider would envy, looked as if he'd been smacked between the eyes with an invisible baseball bat. By the end of the third quarter there must have been a terrible traffic jam surrounding Ford Field as fans with long faces filed up the stairs and out the doors.

One game is too small a sample size to write off Patricia, but maybe now he's aware that he's up against a force much bigger and more powerful than he ever dreamt. Maybe he will be the one to finally tame the beast and I am not alone in hoping that he is, but the chances are much higher that Matt Patricia will be merely end up the latest in a long line of coaches with promising careers cut tragically short by the unstoppable force that is the Detroit Lions'.

3 comments:

  1. "the baton of ineptitude." I love that line Joe.

    ReplyDelete
  2. ". How could Patricia have known that the curse of the Lions was already at work during Super Bowl LII?"
    Hahaha!!!
    I know-the curse is nothing to laugh at.
    But you made it funny :)

    ReplyDelete

Another One Bites the Dust

Professional athletes and those who manage them are interesting specimens. The NFL, like most professional sports leagues, represents the be...