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Detroit Lions: How Important Is Reaching an 8-8 Record?

Seattle Lion FanAnalyst IIJune 20, 2010

DETROIT - JANUARY 03: Bryant Johnson #80 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a second quarter touchdown with Calvin Johnson #81 and Derrick Williams #12 while playing the Chicago Bears on January 3, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The 2010 version of the Detroit Lions is perhaps the most talented team we've seen in the last ten years.  While I'm sure there will be a difference of opinion on that statement, it really is hard to argue with it, at least on paper.

No one can argue that it already has become the most scrutinized team.  And, for perhaps the first time in 10 years, Detroit Lions fans could possibly see the Lions actually moving forward and perhaps make that first step from being the perennial doormat for the rest of the NFL.

Before this season has even started, before even the pre-season has started, this team has been dissected, poked, prodded, evaluated, appraised, classified, investigated, judged and reviewed by both amateur and professional NFL pundits to the Nth degree.

There has been speculation on their success in the upcoming season with predictions ranging from another dismal 2-14 season to wildly optimistic playoff berth.  While neither is impossible, I also see neither being a realistic speculation.

While Detroit fans have been mired with—let's call them what they are—very crappy teams since they went 9-7 in 2000, just how important would it be to the team, the fans and the City of Detroit if the Lions did achieve an 8-8 record?

What it means to the Team:  

Going 8-8 would give this team the confidence and hope to build on for the next 3-5 seasons.  They would start believing in themselves and perhaps, college players wouldn't dread coming to a team that's stuck in the cellar.  Free agents might consider the Lions in a more positive light and perhaps recognize that they just might have something special going on.

What it means to the Fans:

Detroit Lions fans are no fickle lot.  They are and have been waiting for a successful football team in this town for 53 years.  And by successful, I mean being a Super Bowl champion.  But the fans also know that a sustainable winning team isn't built overnight.  For the most part, Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz have made very positive moves over the last two years.  The record may not reflect it but despite going 2-14 last year, fans did see a team moving forward rather than backward.

Most importantly, fans can point to their team and say we aren't losers anymore.  A pretty big monkey to get off our collective backs, don't you think?

What it means to Detroit:

Contrary to possible speculation that Detroit might have it's NFL team taken away from them, an 8-8 season would be a boost in attendance, an increase in revenue for both the team and businesses involved directly and indirectly as well as local politicians start viewing the Lions as an asset to the City rather than a liability. 

I've done my best to keep apprised of the situation in Detroit.  After all, I still call it home despite having not lived there in over 20 years.  Searches on football blogs and Google have turned up very little in regard to the Lions moving anywhere.  There have been some postings on the Internet but I have yet to find anything substantial indicating that Detroit is in danger of losing the Lions.

None the less, the Lions going 8-8 means they could be the trigger to revitalizing the city.

Don't think it's possible?  If there is anyone old enough to remember the riots of 1967, they can also remember how a baseball team helped heal a city.  How much of an effect did the Tigers have?  Here's an excerpt from a column the great Joe Falls wrote on October 11, 1968:

"My town, as you know, had the worst riot in our nation's history in the summer of 1967, and it left scars which may never fully heal. . . . And so, as 1968 dawned and we all started thinking ahead to the hot summer nights in Detroit, the mood of our city was taut. It was apprehensive. . . . But then something started happening in the middle of 1968. You could pull up to a light at the corner of Clairmount and 12th, which was the hub of last year's riot, and the guy in the next car would have his radio turned up: ' .... McLain looks in for the sign, he's set—here's the pitch' ... It was a year when an entire community, an entire city, was caught up in a wild, wonderful frenzy"

There is no doubt the city is currently caught up in the same type of despair.  But rather than a race riot, the city is caught up in an economic riot.  People with skills have nothing to build.  Despite the fantastic news that Midland, MI is the site for the new $320 million dollar battery factory, while being great for the state of Michigan and the city of Midland, it still takes away from the Detroit area.

While Midland may be roughly 150 miles north of Detroit, it might as well be 1,500 miles.  It doesn't help Detroit with its economic woes.  With a successful football team, businesses could find Detroit more attractive to do business within the city limits rather than outside of them.

Detroit is the 11th largest television market the last time I checked the Nielsen ratings.  Other than Los Angles, no other area that has been named as possible new homes rank higher. 

Will the Lions get to 8-8?  No one knows for sure.  But just think of the positives if they do get there.

Thanks for reading...

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