You have probably heard the expression "desperate times call for desperate measures." Bad teams have routinely used this expression to justify questionable decisions. In an attempt to take this phrase a step further, the Detroit Lions have decided that desperate times call for imaginary measures.
Apparently, head coach Rod Marinelli introduced the idea of "imaginary wins" in order to boost the morale of a winless team.
"I have to admit that the idea isn't that great," he said. "I was actually just joking with some of the players, but they thought I was serious. After that, the whole idea took on a life of its own."
The players began to practice with imaginary footballs. All of a sudden, the offense and defense looked magnificent during practice. On every play, the offense scored a touchdown. Every play, the defense had a fumble or interception returned for a touchdown. Of course, it may sound impossible for the offense and defense to score at the same time. Just don't tell that to the players.
Next came imaginary paychecks, uniforms, and padding. They even had imaginary food, but coach Marinelli had to end that because "some pansies were complaining about malnutrition."
Calvin Johnson, the star receiver, even has an imaginary girlfriend. Things got a little out of hand when players started signing autographs with imaginary pens. However, no other complaints have been filed. Everyone in Detroit appears to be happy at the moment, even if they are out of touch with reality. Team owner, William Ford, is even happy with the new philosophy.
"You better not write an article on this," Ford told me, "because it is going to make us look more senile than Al Davis. Oh, nevermind. I don't care what you write. Do you realize that I don't have to pay for equipment or even pay the players? That should leave me with enough money to buy us two games on Thanksgiving."
Whether the Lions are 0-13 or 163-0 (as one player informed me), they are having fun with the game. I was able to witness their fun as I watched them throw the (imaginary) football around at practice. There is nothing quite like watching a football team practice without a football.
Of course, it has yet to be seen if "real" success can blossom from this idea. I wonder what Detroit's players will do when their opponents use a real football against them. What will happen when players try to pay taxes with an imaginary paycheck?
Roger Goodell wants to fine the Lions for reckless use of imagination. However, he can't figure out if a real fine or an imaginary one would be more effective. Only time will tell if this fledgling philosophy can survive in the NFL.