(DETROIT, MI) -- Despite his permanent smile, perpetual hope and "We'll get the next one ..." demeanor, Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington is either at, or approaching, a crossroads.
Two years removed from his blissful Oregon days, which among other benefits, included winning, Harrington officially hit rock bottom Sunday.
After a highly publicized 7.1 quarterback rating, the former Heisman hopeful and 2002 second-overall pick was yanked in favor of former starter Mike McMahon. Harrington had just tossed an interception that was returned for a touchdown, handing the Dallas Cowboys a 28-7 advantage just prior to halftime.
Harrington's final stats for the day? 5-of-13 passing for 30 yards and 2 interceptions.
To paraphrase: "We aren't in Oregon anymore, Joey."
So Harrington stood and watched ... and watched, and watched. He watched as Mike McMahon managed an almost equally unimpressive effort. He watched as his ball club fell 38-7, and watched as Detroit fell to 1-5, 4-18 in his two-years in the NFL.
Harrington stood on the sidelines, restrained only because of his play. No problematic injuries. Just poor play.
Harrington had just been delivered a stiff warning, and also a challenge from head coach Steve Mariucci. Rookie mistakes will not be tolerated. If you can't get the job done, we'll find someone else who can.
Following the contest, Mariucci flirted with the idea he may keep Harrington on the sideline, saying "I should think about it. I owe it to this football team to think about it."
Now, we'll get to see whether or not the kid can respond.
Granted, Mike McMahon proved in his two quarters of play that he isn't worthy of the starting nod. However, Mariucci's strong relationship with veteran Ty Detmer could keep both youngsters with a clip board under their respective arms. It's a very real possibility.
And, if you want to be able to gauge Harrington's true character, just wait to see how he responds to not just criticism, but a very public benching. As likeable, upbeat, and approachable the optimistic Harrington is, he needs to be reminded that this is the National Football League. Nice guys Finish Last.
The patience in Detroit and the state of Michigan is growing as cold as the bitter weather. Also is the once incredibly strong allegiance to Joey "Franchise." Fans want to see a winner, and they want to see a fighter, regardless of who's under center. The post-loss sanguinity has to end. If you need to point fingers, point them, perhaps it will get someone's attention.
No one doubts Joey Harrington's talents, leadership, and willingness to win. That is all very apparent. However, those values have to translate onto the football field, by way of victories. And soon.
There's a framed quote that hangs on the wall of one very successful NFL owner. It reads:
"Ta hell with patience, let's kill something." -- One Buzzard to Another
With opportunity fading, Harrington and the Lions may want to take that approach. It's obviously worked for Jerry Jones.