Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Life as a Lions Fan: Bad Football Might Help Good Teams

As a life-long Detroit Lions fan, last night's loss to the Seattle Seahawks was largely expected.  How they lost was new, though the fact that the Lions lost in a creative way, was also to be expected.  As actor Jeff Daniels said, being a Lions fan is more painful than being a Cubs fan.

In recent years, there is ample evidence that random and uncommon rules have shown up to hurt my already mediocre team. This got me to thinking, though, of the old adage, bad facts make bad law. For the Lions, I think that's not necessarily apt.  It may be that bad football makes for better football later.   

To understand how one might get there, one needs to know a little what it's like to be a Lions fan, so here's a little insight into how life as a Lions fan works: 

I watched the start of the game last night with my ten-year-old son.  Part of the pre-game programming is all of the announcers and studio people make their pick for the game.  The ten or so predictions were unanimously for the Seahawks.  I turned to my son and said, "Well, the Lions will probably make a game of it then."  He asked why.  I replied, "Because the Lions have a better chance to win when absolutely no one objective expects them to. I don't know why. It's just true." 

He went to bed shortly after kickoff. Lest anyone think I am cruel, I am not trying too hard to make him a Lions fan.  I have tried to raise him and his little sister also as Saints fans.  I am not going to bandwagon an make them Pats fans or anything, but New Orleans was home for three years, so I can reasonably adopt the Saints.  I have been questioned on that choice as an alternative, and this year doesn't look too hot, but in my defense, my kids' team has a Super Bowl win in their lifetimes. More than I can say for me.

As the game went on, there was lost of social media complaining between me and my fellow Lions fans.  Most of it along the lines of: "Did they forgot how to throw downfield?" "This is awful." "Where's Barry Sanders?"  Then I posted something witty like, "Matt Stafford just checked down to me on my couch." 

Despite an awful game, the Lions had a chance.  With time running out, the team seemed to learned they could throw the ball down the field more than three yards. 

The Lions were losing 13-10 with 1:51 left in the game when Stafford passed to Calvin Johnson, who dove for a touchdown.  Just before the goal line, Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor punched the ball out of his hands, and the ball tumbled into the end zone. Another Seahawks play clearly hit the ball out of the back of the end zone.  The play was call a touchback, giving Seattle the football at their own 20 yard line.  The problem is that NFL rules make batting the ball illegal, and the ball should have been awarded to the Lions at the 1 yard line.  

No call, and the Lions go on to lose.  And yes, there were lots of other chances the Lions had to win, and you can't hope a refs call won't go against you.  But it still stunk.  Again, a social media glimpse into the life of a Lions fan. 

Friend 1:  Could an ending be more Lions than that?

Me:  If you're going to screw it up, do it with panache.  And no. 

Friend 2:  did you see the latest on ESPN.. apparently, it looks like it shouldn't have been a touchback, but 1 and goal at the 6 inch line

Me:  That would be as about as Lions as it gets.

That's a long-winded bit of rambling, but it's cheaper than therapy.  

All teams run into odd rules, but mediocre teams have more ways of finding challenges. The Lions find challenges like no one else. They have a history of struggling with (i.e., losing, in part, because of) arcane rules, as this article explains: Illegal bat continues Lions' proud tradition of getting hosed by the NFL rulebook. The Illegal Bat now joins the Calvin Johnson Rule and the Jim Schwartz rule.  

This mediocrity can have value, though.  Finding all these weird challenges can help make the game better by helping highlight risks for future games that matter.  Better officiating and better rules will not make the Lions a better football team, but the challenges they seem to goof into might make for more aware officials and better rules for playoff games, which usually feature better teams.

Of course, the Lions finally made the playoffs last year, only to lose, in part, because of an oddly changed call.  Nonetheless, if the Lions can't be good, at least some good is coming from their games. Right?  

You don't need to answer that. 

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/business_law/2015/10/life-as-a-lions-fan-bad-football-might-help-good-teams.html

Current Affairs, Joshua P. Fershee, Sports | Permalink

Comments

At least you're not a Cowboys fan. I'm totally conflicted. I have to admire Jerry Jones as a business genius; the man knows how to make money. But then there's the football team. :)

Posted by: Steve Bradford | Oct 8, 2015 12:22:09 PM

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