Detroit Lions: Worst All-Time Doesn't Mean It's Getting Better

Eric BentonContributor IDecember 26, 2008

Let's face it, Lions fans, 0-16 is going to happen.

There is no plausible reason to believe that the Lions will avoid everlasting infamy by beating the Green Bay Packers this weekend. There is nothing to suggest that this team, this pathetic catastrophe of a team, will be able to do what no Lions team has been able to do since 1991...beat the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay.

Not even when it's a lesser Green Bay team.  Not when you are the worst team of all time.

For those that look for silver linings in things like becoming the only professional football team to go winless in a 16-game season, it's reasonable to believe that there is nowhere to go from here but up. 

Unfortunately, for Lions fans, that's not necessarily true.

Unlike the other winless team in NFL history, these Lions are not an expansion team.  This historic season is 50 years in the making. It is the culmination of decades of work dedicated to the singular focus of losing. It is the physical embodiment of the Detroit Lions' "Commitment of Ineptitude."

Why then, after 50 years, would you think it would start to get better?

The NFL is a league of parity.  More so than any other professional sports league, it is built on the premise that anybody can beat anybody else on a given day, that anybody can win a championship in a given year.

The salary cap eliminates the wild and uncontrolled spending that ruins baseball's balance. The static seeding of the draft insures that the worst team actually gets the first picks, unlike the NBA. The college experience requirement gives teams a chance to adequately access talent, unlike the NHL.

Teams like the Dolphins can be 1-15 one season, and compete for a division title the next.  Today's dominant teams like the Patriots and Colts were yesterday's laughing stocks.

The entire premise of the National Football League is based on competitive balance and it seeks to give every opportunity to its members to achieve it. Unfortunately for Lions fans, a team has to actually take them up on it.

Conventional logic would suggest the Lions could make a quick turnaround.  They will be blessed with three of the top 33 picks in April's draft, five in the top 85.  Depending on their personnel decisions, they should have available cap room to pursue sought-after free agents.

Most teams would be poised to make significant improvements next year, but that's conventional logic, not Lions logic.

Lions logic has nothing to do with reason, nor has it anything to do with numbers. 

Lions logic is an argument over which meal to eat at your second cousin's wedding with your girlfriend at the height of her menstrual cycle.  Beef or chicken: It doesn't matter which one you choose, you're wrong.

There will be lots of discussions regarding the first pick in the draft.  Should they draft a quarterback or an offensive lineman?  Maybe a defensive end?  It doesn't matter.  Whoever they pick will be the the wrong choice, simply because they chose it. 

If they draft a QB, they will do so the year before the proposed rookie salary cap is implemented and will likely cripple the salary cap with the weight of a franchise QB contract that they will fail to appropriately develop.

If they draft an offensive lineman, they will have passed on what is expected to be one of the better classes of college QBs in recent years and continue their astounding run of consecutive seasons without a pro-bowl signal caller.

The Lions can't win, and that's just the way they like it.

Losing is an art that the Lions are mastering.  Only the Detroit Lions would reward a catastrophic disaster of a season by bringing back the architects who had a hand in its design, even when credible and successful alternatives are available (see Scott Pioli of the Patriots) or when they have openly expressed their desire for the positions (see Bill Parcells of the Dolphins; Ron Wolf formerly of the Packers).

They are one of the few organizations on the planet, in any capacity, that actively compensates incompetence. They seek it. They breed it.

The Detroit Lions will become the first 0-16 team in NFL history on Sunday; it's a lock.

They will set the measuring stick for futility by any franchise in any sport.  It will be the crowning achievement of their less-than-illustrious history, a record they will hold on their own, peerless in their unwavering desire to be the worst. 

Records, however, are made to be broken. The Lions did, after all, win all four of their preseason games. They did manage to rush for more yards than two other franchises this year.  They outscored five others.

There is work to be done here and there is no end to the Lions' "Commitment of Ineptitude."

To say it can't get any worse is just issuing a challenge to a franchise just waiting to prove you wrong. And, ultimately, they will.