By Jeff Moss
May 22, 2011
It shouldn’t come as a surprise. As a matter of fact it was just the opposite.
You didn’t expect the Detroit Lions organization to actually give their fanbase what they overwhelmingly wanted, did you?
I mean, for decades did William Clay Ford, Sr. fire Russ Thomas when the fans of the Lions demanded a new General Manager who wouldn’t penny-pinch?
Did he replace Wayne Fontes during the prime of Barry Sanders’ career and hire a coach who wasn’t a cartoon character and install a serious front office regime when the fan base clamored for competency? Nope, instead he flushed the career of the greatest running back in NFL history down the fucking toilet.
Did the Old Man acquiesce to Lions Nations’ DEMAND that he shit-can Matt Millen after it became abundantly clear that the former broadcaster had no clue how to run a franchise?
Of course not. He waited for YEARS while his fans organized rallies, wore bags over their heads at home games and started “Fire Millen” chants at RED WINGS, PISTONS and TIGERS games!!!!
No, the Lions have been pissing on their fan’s desires from the day William Clay Ford, Sr. took over sole ownership of this team in 1963. From huge decisions like the ones stated above to smaller issues like refusing to hire professional cheerleaders.
So it was completely expected that the Detroit Lions fans would once again snub their noses at the latest request of Lions supporters. The chance to watch their favorite NFL team on HBO’s incredible documentary series, “Hard Knocks.”
Instead of being grateful that they actually STILL have a fanbase after 50 years of this sports holocaust that they are solely responsible for presiding over, the Ford Family and their minions have once again decided to deprive their patrons of something they want.
In a recent ESPN SportsNation poll, the question was asked, “Which team would you like to see on this season’s version of ‘Hard Knocks’”?
The choices were the Denver Broncos, the Atlanta Falcons, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New England Patriots and the Lions.
I mean, look at those teams for a second. If this was a game of which one doesn’t belong, my three-year old nephew could answer the question in about two seconds.
The options were:
1) A team that has been competitive for decades and has won TWO Super Bowls and SIX conference champions.
2) A team that won 13 games last season and a favorite to win the Super Bowl this season.
3) The model franchise in the NFL. A team that has won SIX Super Bowls.
4) The best team of the decade. A team that has won THREE Super Bowls in the last ten years. A team that had an undefeated season a couple years back and whose quarterback is married to a super model.
5) THE LIONS. A team that has NEVER been to a Super Bowl and an organization that became the first team in NFL history to go 0 and 16 a couple of year ago.
I don’t want to go all Berne Mac on ya, but THOSE were the choices, America. And you chose the Lions. OVERWHELMINGLY.
The Lions got 37% of the vote and were pretty much the majority selection in every state EXCEPT Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Georgia.
In Michigan, 83% of the voters chose the Lions so it is pretty clear that the team’ fans would love to get the in-depth HBO treatment for five episodes during training camp (if it ever happens.)
But why would you want to give your poor, entertainment-starved fans an all-access pass to the team? Why expose your brand to a national audience that would love to get to know Calvin Johnson, Ndamonkung Suh and Matt Stafford?
Look, I had no delusion this was going to happen. The two people in charge of the team have no desire in putting the team under a microscope.
Tom “Breath Mints” Lewand doesn’t want the cameras to be a “distraction” to the team’s young players.
He probably also doesn’t want to have to revisit his 2010 DUI arrest when he embarrassingly refused to take a Breathalyzer test and blamed the odor of alcohol on his breath on Tic-Tacs.
(You think for a second that the HBO producers wouldn’t pull the tapes of “Breath Mints” explaining to the officer that his brother-in-law cop had previously told him that Breathalyzers aren’t always accurate? Or that when he finally did blow at the police station, he registered a .21?)
Martin Mayhew??? According to Lions’ beat writer, Tom Kowalski, the Lions GM talks to the media about three times a year. I am not sure you could get the guy to admit he was an African-American in an interview.
These guys believe that everything is best kept under wraps and that it would be awful if cameras had access to meetings about personnel between Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz.
It is absolutely delusional of Mayhew to believe that his outright refusal to speak to the media is helping anything.
What he is actually doing when he ignores media requests is punishing the fans that would like some access to the interworking of management.
Once again, these people are lucky that anyone gives a shit about this franchise after the pain and agony they’ve been put through, but instead of trying to make amends they instead keep slamming the door on their face.
Somehow in their warped thinking, the Lions brass believe that opening up training camp to the HBO cameras will somehow have a negative effect on the upcoming season.
Well, let’s look at the 2010 participant, the New York Jets.
While there was some criticism of Rex Ryan’s language (he actually tied Al Swearingen’s HBO record for most curse words in a single 60 minute episode) and Antonio Cromartie’s revelation that he had more kids than Jerry Lewis, what went so horribly wrong for the J-E-T-S?
Ummm, they made the playoffs. (Something the Lions haven’t done since Bill Clinton was the President.)
They also won TWO playoff games.
Let’s put that in perspective. The season that NYJ participated in this SCARY project, THEY WON ONE MORE PLAYOFF GAME THAN THE LIONS HAVE WON UNDER WILLIAM CLAY FORD’S ENTIRE REGIME!!!!!!!!
Or how about this? The Lions have won ONE playoff game since John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The Jets have won TWO playoff games since Rick Snyder was elected Governor of Michigan.
And they amazingly did it in a season where they were under the red-hot lights of the HBO cameras.
And let’s talk about “Hard Knocks” for a second. The show is maybe the best single thing on television.
I have pretty much watched everything that this crew has done from the “24/7” boxing programs on every Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight to the build-up to this past year’s NHL Winter Classic.
Fuck, I even watched their ENTIRE series on Jimmy Johnson and his road to the 2010 Daytona 500 and if there were a NASCAR race in my backyard, I’d close the blinds and call the cops.
But the show is so well done that I actually found myself caring about Jimmy Johnson’s quest. And this is coming from a guy who would rather watch the Hallmark Channel than a bunch of hillbilly’s driving around in a circle in the south somewhere.
(And for the record, when the Red Wings get selected for another Winter Classic, do you think they are going to say no to the HBO cameras? No fucking way. I bet they will welcome them with open arms. Of course, matching-up the Red Wings and Lions organizations would be like comparing the physical attributes of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cleaning lady to Scarlett Johansson.)
I am telling you, if HBO decided to do a “Hard Knocks” or “24/7” of the daily workings of a Walgreens I’d watch it and I am sure it would be interesting. THAT is how good they are.
And that is who the Lions are telling, “No thanks.”
And they are passing on this great opportunity for national exposure by leaking it out that they only thing that matters is winning.
That all Lions fans care about is getting to a Super Bowl and this really isn’t important to them.
Except, it isn’t true. This poll isn’t lying. People across the country want the Lions on “Hard Knocks” for whatever reason.
And you know who gets to play the “Only Winning Matters” card? PEOPLE WHO FUCKING WIN!!!
You can’t play that hand when you have NEVER been to a Super Bowl!
And you can’t give us that shit when your record is 39-121 over the last ten years!
If it was all about WINNING you’d have actually given us a WINNING product over the last 50 years.
Nope, this is all about the Lions organization not giving a flying fuck about their fan’s needs because they know that we are a bunch of heroin addicts with nowhere else to go.