John U. Bacon's thoughts on the Lions and the Browns

Jan 9, 2015

A Detroit Lions game.
Credit Rachel Kramer / Flickr

The Lions have lost to the Cowboys 13 times – so that’s not unusual. 

There are 31 other teams in the NFL, and 27 of them have winning records against the Lions.  

That leaves those pesky cats to feed on the likes of the Cleveland Browns, whose only fan in Michigan is our news director, Vince Duffy, from Ohio.

When you root for the Lions, it’s nice to know someone out there has it worse than you.  Poor Vince. 

But Detroit did make the playoffs, and that is unusual.  During the past 57 seasons, the Lions have played exactly 12 playoff games.  And they have lost all but one of those games. 

In fact, every NFL team that’s been around since the Super Bowl started in 1967 has made it to the title game, except two: The Detroit Lions, and – you guessed it -- the Cleveland Browns.  (Poor Vince.) 

What was surprising this year is that the Lions team actually wasn’t bad.  They finished the regular season with 11 wins – for only the four time in team history. 

Even stranger, the Lions might be better than the Cowboys. They proved that when they jumped out to a 14-0 lead. But in the second half, the Lions must have woken up, remembered who they were, and then went back to sleep – while the Cowboys scored all the points. 

Detroit stirred a bit in the fourth quarter, when Lions quarterback Matt Stafford fired a pass to tight-end Brandon Pettigrew.  But Cowboys defender Anthony Hitchins chose to ignore the quarterback, the ball and the rules, waving his arms maniacally at Pettigrew, before steam rolling him into the ground. 

You have to give Hitchins credit: It was an effective defense.

It was also flagrantly illegal, for about a dozen reasons.   And that’s why the ref threw his yellow flag, and started marching off the penalty yards in Detroit’s favor. 

But then things turned stranger still.  About a month after the ref threw the flag, head referee Pete Morelli decided to pick up it up, and declare there was nothing to see here, so fans might as well move along.  For some reason.

We don’t know what that reason was, however, because Morelli never gave one.

And this is why Lions’ fans are now busy creating conspiracy theories.  The best one goes like this: The Cowboys’ are “America’s Team.”  The Lions aren’t even Michigan’s.  Any UP Packer Backers out there?   

Dallas owner Jerry Jones has a billion dollar stadium, with TV screens bigger than basketball courts.  Jones also has a close relationship with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and a hotline to him during games.  Throw in a photo of NFL’s head of officiating, Dean Blandino (I’m not making that name up), walking off a Dallas party bus laughing, and you still don’t have enough for a court case -- but you have more than enough for the internet. 

Whenever I have to choose between someone being corrupt or incompetent, I almost always choose the latter – and I’m pleased to say, I’m almost always right.  Corruption is evil, but incompetence is everywhere.  And I think that’s probably the case here, too.

Speaking of incompetence, Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matt Stafford has now played 18 games on the road against winning teams – and lost all 18.  See what I mean about incompetence?  Corruption alone can’t get you a record like that. 

So the Lions will continue being the Lions.  The NFL will continue being the NFL.  And I will continue to prefer college football.

Unless Ohio State wins the national title on Monday.

Just kidding, Vince.