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ZippyTheChimp
December 22nd, 2008, 01:05 AM
Only opened this topic because the photo of a suffering fan at the Lions-Saints game captures the mood in Detroit.

http://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2008/12/ipt/1229916390.jpg


Lions not only embarrassment in Detroit

By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

DETROIT – Kwame M. Kilpatrick is the city’s last duly elected mayor.

Through three thin, vertical windows of room 14J-4 in the Wayne County Jail where he currently resides, he could’ve looked across the snow-packed intersection of St. Antoine and Clinton Sunday and watched a couple dozen Detroit Lion fans gather for what may be their final tailgate.

They were huddled in a near barren parking lot, gathering warmth from a grill cooking steaks. They would fill their cups with booze, turn toward the jail and hoist a shot for the former mayor of a city that’s expected to end the year with a $300-million deficit.

“The idea that he’s in our tailgate,” smiled Michelle Alessandri of Dearborn Heights, “we note the irony of it.”

Three blocks north of where Kilpatrick sits and the crowd drinks is Ford Field, home of another local embarrassment – the lifeless, hopeless Detroit Lions. Sunday they became the first team in NFL history to go 0-15 with a pathetic 42-7 loss to New Orleans.

Two blocks south is the Greektown Casino, which filed for bankruptcy protection in May. A bankrupt casino? It’s a testament to the economic disaster in a state with unemployment nearing 10 percent. The casino’s November revenue was down 16.4 percent from the year before according to state filings.

Four blocks south of Greektown, looming over it all, is the world headquarters of General Motors. Chrysler and GM need a $13.4 billion emergency loan from the federal government to avoid its own Chapter 11 filing.

Even with the lifeline of money, no one here is optimistic. GM has 88 days and counting to restructure. Chrysler has already shuttered its plants for a month at least.

A failing industry. A bankrupt casino. A jailed mayor. A winless football team.

It’s winter in Detroit.

Within a quarter mile of the tailgate there isn’t a whole lot of good news and even less on the horizon. All they have is gallows humor and joy of friendship. It’s always been strange tailgating next to a jail before watching a franchise with one playoff victory in 51 seasons, they say.

There was the time one guy got his car stolen. Another when they say a suspected drug addict overdosed in the parking lot. And then there was the Thanksgiving they gave some turkey to a homeless man only to have him note “it’s kind of dry, isn’t it?”

Through the bitter, biting wind they laughed at the memories and took turns blaming owner William Clay Ford for the on-field debacle.

Alessandri turned and looked up to the windows of Kilpatrick’s cell. They are too dark to see into, but she figures he must look out at some point. Due to two felony convictions for obstruction of justice, he’s in there 23 hours a day.

“Kwame was running the city under the cover of lies and arrogance,” she said. “And William Clay Ford has a certain amount of lies and arrogance too.”

Rod Marinelli is the head coach of the Lions.

He’s 59 years old, a Vietnam veteran and was so tough back in high school he once wrestled a bear just to impress some girls. By every account he’s a good man. He’s also a terrible head coach, 10-37 now with one game to go before he’s likely fired.

He’s trying to avoid becoming the coach of the first 0-16 team in NFL history. Only a game at Green Bay remains. The Lions have lost 17 straight road games against the Packers, which doesn’t bode well. Although as center Dominic Raiola notes, what’s the difference?

“We haven’t had much success winning anywhere,” he said.

The Lions turned in a bleak performance on Sunday. It looked like a 0-16 team.

On offense their best play – a 40-yard touchdown, was called back because a lineman lined up in the wrong spot. They inexplicably started the second half with 12 men in the huddle.

Defense was worse. The Saints scored on their first six possessions. They went 11 of 11 on third down until taking a knee to kill the clock. There was no pressure on the quarterback. There were times the secondary just didn’t cover receivers. The Saints punter never had to punt.

The joke around the stadium was that the best tackle of the day was made by “Biggie Bagel” during a Dunkin’ Donuts promotion.

Joey Harrington, a colossal bust as quarterback of the Lions is now a Saints backup. He marveled at his former team’s futility and told the Detroit Free Press, that despite never having a winning season in Detroit, “it’s weird I was here in the heyday.”

After the carnage Marinelli looked like a shell of a man, staring off into space and trying to make sense of how everything could go wrong. He tried to take all the blame, although much of this was decades of bad ownership and years of mismanagement by fired team president Matt Millen.

Marinelli was repeatedly asked about the job done by defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who is his son in law. It’s a relationship that infuriates fans: cronyism killing the team. Marinelli wouldn’t specifically blame Barry. This was on the head coach first.

Finally Detroit News columnist Rob Parker laid it out.

“Do you wish your daughter had married a better defensive coordinator?”

“Next question,” Marinelli said.

Bill Keenist is the publicity man for the Detroit Lions.

You get into that business to get positive stories out into the media. He’s been with the team since 1985, which means he did experience its one playoff victory (1991 over the Cowboys) during the Barry Sanders era.

Since then he’s dealt with more losses than any other franchise. There’s been a parade of overmatched coaches and overwhelmed players.

One time an assistant got so drunk he went through a Wendy’s drive-thru naked. Another time a player got cut and reportedly decided to steal the luggage of the player replacing him. Still another, the players filed a grievance to the union that they were practicing too hard. It goes on and on.

Now his team is 0-15, which means there’s plenty of media but just about nothing positive to pitch. As one of his college interns lamented, “this might be the first 0-16 internship in NFL history.”

This team is so bad the local media has run out of ways to describe it. You can only rip them so often. You can only laugh at them so much.

“It’s one of the bigger journalistic challenges I can remember,” joked Bob Wojnowski, a Detroit News columnist and local radio host. “The players don’t even care anymore. They expect to be mocked.”

So how do you publicize a team with seemingly nothing good happening? Keenist points to the professionalism of Marinelli and the players, the way they continue to work hard in the face of defeat.

“It’s really remarkable,” he said. “A lot of people would just quit. The dedication and work ethic, it’s a tremendous inspiration for young people.”

Give him credit, the man can spin anything.

John Masco is a Detroit sports fan.

In his basement in suburban Westland, he has a framed edition of a local newspaper after the championships of local team: Red Wings, Pistons, etc. He even has one when the Michigan Panthers won the now defunct USFL.

He has just one newspaper that mentions the Lions. It’s from Nov. 23, 1963. In big letters it reports the assassination of President Kennedy.

“Down at the bottom it says: ‘Ford completes buy of Lions,’ ” Masco laughs. “What other day could it be than the same one Kennedy got killed?”

Masco is part of the tailgating crew just outside Mayor Kilpatrick’s jail. Almost everyone here says after at least a decade they’re giving up their season tickets.

A winless campaign is the final insult. William Clay Ford has announced only modest changes in the front office, so even without Marinelli and his son in law, little is likely to change.

Besides, money is tight whether you work for the Big Three or not. This is a farewell party more than a pregame gathering.

“It’s very difficult, especially in this economy,” Alessandri said. “All of us are affected one way or the other by the auto industry.”


Masco works for the Ford Motor Company but notes it’s under different family leadership than the Lions. “One puts out a quality product, the other doesn’t,” said friend Sebastian Cacciola.

Some of the lingering anger about the Lions is how it’s added to Detroit’s woes, given extra punch lines for a city already punch drunk from a public relations battering.

Across the parking lot, brothers Kevin and James Williams, both of whom work for auto suppliers, lament the state of affairs. They watched grandstanding politicians question loans for the auto industry just weeks after giving New York bankers billions without comment.

Some of them represented states with Honda and Toyota factories, they note. Others claimed the best way for the Big Three to get turned around is to stop producing it’s most popular and profitable models – trucks.

“Does Nancy Pelosi think a Prius could get through this snow?” asks Kevin.

Don’t get them started on Kwame. Or President Bush. Or the auto company CEOs who flew in private jets. Or, yes, William Clay Ford.

Detroit is more resilient, more adaptable and more ambitious than it’s portrayed. The leaders have repeatedly failed the people.

But as the Williams brothers agree, perception is reality. Until you can change things, you are what you are.

A failing industry. A bankrupt casino. A jailed mayor. The worst football team of all time. All within a few snowy blocks on a cold Sunday morning in a city in need of a bright new day.

Bronxbombers
December 22nd, 2008, 10:15 PM
If The Detroit Lions lose next week the will be NFL team with 16 loses,no wins and no ties? I will see what happen next week to the Detroit Lions on TV.

ZippyTheChimp
December 28th, 2008, 05:33 PM
Critical mass
http://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2008/12/ipt/1229916390.jpghttp://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2008/12/ipt/1229916390.jpg

Futile first: Lions 0-16 after 31-21 loss to Pack

By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer 34 minutes ago

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)—The Detroit Lions own a distinction no team wants: worst in NFL history.

Facing one last chance to avoid their dubious destiny, the Lions lost Sunday’s season finale to the Green Bay Packers 31-21 to complete the league’s first 0-16 season. The 1976 expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14) were the last NFL team to complete a season without a victory.

It didn’t come without a fight. After falling behind 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter, Kevin Smith’s 9-yard touchdown run put Detroit back within a field goal.

But Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers responded with a 71-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver and the Lions’ Dan Orlovsky threw an interception on fourth-and-27 with 3 minutes left, dooming Detroit to futility of historic proportion.

The Lions were building toward this for years and now have lost 23 of their last 24 games. The 0-16 record will be a lasting testimony to the Matt Millen era. With Millen as president of the team from 2001 until he was fired on Sept. 24, Detroit won only 31 games—none this year, of course.

Indeed, the Lions haven’t won since Dec. 23, 2007, when they beat Kansas City. Green Bay is where this woeful streak began at the end of last season. Since then, the Lions have lost 17 straight and have been outscored 551-281.

Coach Rod Marinelli has gone 10-38 in three seasons. His future has not been announced, but team owner William Clay Ford has decided the leaders of the front office, Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand, will be back in some capacity.

Orlovsky was 22-of-42 for 225 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Lions, whose bid to stay out of the record book came undone in large part due to a pair of ill-advised penalties.

Rodgers was 21-of-31 for 308 yards and three touchdowns for the Packers (6-10), and Ryan Grant rushed for 106 yards.

Trailing 14-7 early in the third quarter, Lions punter Nick Harris pinned the Packers at their 10-yard line. Safety Kalvin Pearson then put a hard hit on Grant to cause a fumble, and recovered the ball at the Packers 11.

Calvin Johnson caught a pass from Orlovsky in the flat and broke three tackling attempts to score a tying 14-yard touchdown with 10:20 left in the third quarter.

But the Packers put together a 12-play, 62-yard drive for a 36-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. After a three-and-out by Detroit’s offense, Lions linebacker Ernie Sims’ penalty for a late hit out of bounds on Grant played a key role on a drive that ended with a 5-yard pass from Rodgers to fullback John Kuhn.

The Lions weren’t finished, as Orlovsky used two long completions to John Standeford to set up Smith’s touchdown with 8:34 left. After the ensuing kickoff, Rodgers reared back and threw deep to Driver, who blew past Lions cornerback Leigh Bodden and ran in for a touchdown.

Orlovsky led the Lions back into Packers territory, but a taunting penalty on Smith moved the Lions back near midfield and Orlovsky threw an interception to Nick Collins.

Detroit fell behind 14-0 as Orlovsky managed a measly 9 yards passing in the first quarter. But the Lions’ defense showed some fight early on before allowing backup running back DeShawn Wynn to score on a 73-yard touchdown.

Rodgers also threw a fade to rookie tight end Jermichael Finley in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.

Detroit scored early in the second quarter, a 9-yard touchdown from Orlovsky to Johnson on third-and-goal.

Bronxbombers
December 29th, 2008, 02:20 AM
Critical mass

http://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2008/12/ipt/1229916390.jpghttp://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2008/12/ipt/1229916390.jpg

Futile first: Lions 0-16 after 31-21 loss to Pack

By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer 34 minutes ago

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)—The Detroit Lions own a distinction no team wants: worst in NFL history.

Facing one last chance to avoid their dubious destiny, the Lions lost Sunday’s season finale to the Green Bay Packers 31-21 to complete the league’s first 0-16 season. The 1976 expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14) were the last NFL team to complete a season without a victory.

It didn’t come without a fight. After falling behind 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter, Kevin Smith’s 9-yard touchdown run put Detroit back within a field goal.

But Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers responded with a 71-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver and the Lions’ Dan Orlovsky threw an interception on fourth-and-27 with 3 minutes left, dooming Detroit to futility of historic proportion.

The Lions were building toward this for years and now have lost 23 of their last 24 games. The 0-16 record will be a lasting testimony to the Matt Millen era. With Millen as president of the team from 2001 until he was fired on Sept. 24, Detroit won only 31 games—none this year, of course.

Indeed, the Lions haven’t won since Dec. 23, 2007, when they beat Kansas City. Green Bay is where this woeful streak began at the end of last season. Since then, the Lions have lost 17 straight and have been outscored 551-281.

Coach Rod Marinelli has gone 10-38 in three seasons. His future has not been announced, but team owner William Clay Ford has decided the leaders of the front office, Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand, will be back in some capacity.

Orlovsky was 22-of-42 for 225 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Lions, whose bid to stay out of the record book came undone in large part due to a pair of ill-advised penalties.

Rodgers was 21-of-31 for 308 yards and three touchdowns for the Packers (6-10), and Ryan Grant rushed for 106 yards.

Trailing 14-7 early in the third quarter, Lions punter Nick Harris pinned the Packers at their 10-yard line. Safety Kalvin Pearson then put a hard hit on Grant to cause a fumble, and recovered the ball at the Packers 11.

Calvin Johnson caught a pass from Orlovsky in the flat and broke three tackling attempts to score a tying 14-yard touchdown with 10:20 left in the third quarter.

But the Packers put together a 12-play, 62-yard drive for a 36-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. After a three-and-out by Detroit’s offense, Lions linebacker Ernie Sims’ penalty for a late hit out of bounds on Grant played a key role on a drive that ended with a 5-yard pass from Rodgers to fullback John Kuhn.

The Lions weren’t finished, as Orlovsky used two long completions to John Standeford to set up Smith’s touchdown with 8:34 left. After the ensuing kickoff, Rodgers reared back and threw deep to Driver, who blew past Lions cornerback Leigh Bodden and ran in for a touchdown.

Orlovsky led the Lions back into Packers territory, but a taunting penalty on Smith moved the Lions back near midfield and Orlovsky threw an interception to Nick Collins.

Detroit fell behind 14-0 as Orlovsky managed a measly 9 yards passing in the first quarter. But the Lions’ defense showed some fight early on before allowing backup running back DeShawn Wynn to score on a 73-yard touchdown.

Rodgers also threw a fade to rookie tight end Jermichael Finley in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.

Detroit scored early in the second quarter, a 9-yard touchdown from Orlovsky to Johnson on third-and-goal.Finally I see that Detroit Lions are 0 and 16 and 0 for the 2008 NFL season. The Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions 31 to 21 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay,Wisconsin today.

Zephyr
December 29th, 2008, 03:44 AM
http://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2008/12/ipt/1229916390.jpg


Remember the paper sacks with roughly torn eye holes and captioned with phrases such as "aints" for "Saints," etc.? You have to hand it to them, Detroit fans have a response that is far more elaborate, and contains a higher level of creativity.

But that coming NFL Draft had better be a great one for the Lions ... or heads above coaching staff, may soon roll as well.

ZippyTheChimp
December 29th, 2008, 04:50 PM
Detroit needs an alternative coach, alternative cars, and maybe an alternative owner, presently the son of Edsel Ford.