Detroit has always been a football town. From the University of Detroit Stadium right through Briggs Stadium, this franchise has experienced the pleasure of winning. Though they didn’t win often, once in 1935 and three times during the fifties, there was always this aura of Lions football.
I’ve grown up hearing stories of my parents and their parents attending every home game for decades, yet never reaching the ultimate goal that each team competes for year in and year out, the Super Bowl.
Detroit has the second-longest championship drought behind the Arizona Cardinals, who currently holds the lead by ten years. But not since the Wayne Fontes Era, has a professional sports team been so often criticized about their inability to win.
We’re not talking about winning playoff games or championships; we’re talking about regular season games.
Since 2001, the first year under Matt Millen management and the relocation from the Pontiac Silverdome to Ford Field, this team has put up a dreadful record of 31 wins and 95 losses. This Lions team did not record a road victory from 2001 through 2003.
After getting off to a hot start in 2007, the team, which started 6-2, managed to lose six straight games, and failed to reach a .500 record, something unheard of since 2000. Regardless, the team finished 7-9, and had a somewhat promising future as well.
Many experts didn’t project an amazing season for the Lions, but rather predicted them to register about four or five wins.
I’m not going to recap the entire 2008 season, because that would be utter torture for most. In a complete reversal, this season has consisted of front-office firings and the calling for a similar fate to current head coach, Rod Marinelli.
For heaven’s sake, the Lions finished the preseason with a 4-0 record!
This franchise, currently holding a brutal 0-14 record, is only two weeks away from a historic 0-16 season. The Lions are destined to make the record books.
Every Monday, I wake up before class and read the headlines in the Free Press and listen to local radio shows to hear the everlasting call for change in the organization. There are dozens of Detroiters that let their voice be heard, many calling it the end of their support for the team and some that remain loyal despite the dismal season.
This season is unlike any before it, with an astonishing four games being blacked out because of the team being unable to sell all of their tickets. While some of the burden may be placed on the economy, there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much of a problem for other struggling franchises.
While the entire country waits for the next two weeks for the playoff picture to come together, football fans in Detroit will wait to see imperfection be attained. New Orleans and Green Bay are the two obstacles in the Lions route to glory.
These will be the final two weeks for Rod Marinelli. These will be the final two weeks of Dan Orlovsky. These will be the final two weeks of a football season that will go down in record books and will leave a certain stigma upon Lions football; a buildup of the last eight years.
This has been an era that will never be forgotten, yet an era in which the new staff will try to mend the wound in which this team has left.
Next season will be for the fans; if there are any left.
Until then, we wait.