Column: Lions 'Joke' Stigma Doesn't Stick

Hopefully, fans of the Detroit Lions aren't shutting the door on their team due to the despondent 2001 season. Because, despite the blighted hope that has been spread via the national and local media, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it is flickering.

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Nate Caminata - LionsFans.com

One of the more simple tasks in life is to make comedy of an unfortunate situation. It is how most comedians garner laughter. It gives an audience a humorous topic. And, for some, it makes the situation that much more tolerable. Or for some, intolerable.

Fans of the winless (0-9) Detroit Lions have become subject to such frolic behavior. And despite the occasional laugh, it is often accompanied by silent mourn. You can't doubt a pain that befalls within when staring at the dismal record.

Remember, this is our team. And there is no such thing as "going numb."

The Lions, who duped most fans this summer by televising "New Attitude" commercials and hinting towards a potential Super season, have become the butt of each and every NFL related joke. Whether it is nationally-staged late night host Jay Leno outlining a comparison between Detroit and the Taliban regime, or cynical sports radio host Jim Rome running 'smack' on the Lions, comical criticism has been difficult to escape.

"What's the difference between the Detroit Lions and the Taliban," asked Leno last week. "The Taliban has a running game."  The audience, apparently impressed with the immense, blinking "APPLAUD" signs, cheered wildly.

"If the Lions can make it to 0-15 when they host Dallas," boasted a sarcastic Rome last week. "That will be my Super Bowl -- forget January." Rome, apparently impressed with himself ... and his hair, chuckled.

Obviously Rome's career wasn't built in a day. But that's about how long it should've lasted. However, even local media outlets are taking their shot at the Lions.

"No joke: 0-16 Lions would be a legacy," titles a Free Press headline.   "Lions prove again they are nothing but an embarrassment," states the always original Detroit News. One wonders if the title following last week's loss was, "Lions prove they are nothing but an embarrassment."

Hopefully, Lions' fans aren't shutting the door on their team due to the despondent 2001 season. Because, despite the blighted hope that has been spread via the media, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it is flickering.

No, the 0-9 start wasn't expected. But, if you glanced at the Lions schedule prior to the regular season, neither were the playoffs. And while this could be the most hackneyed, optimistic statement this year; the 0-9 start isn't as bad as it sounds, looks, or feels.

In their past six contests, Detroit has dropped each of their games by an average of 5 points. While the final score, indeed, is what counts in the end, that statistic alone should nullify the 'joke' stigma that the 2001 Detroit Lions have attained.

And while they are not a good -- or even average -- NFL ball club, they are in no way the joke many have proclaimed them to be.

Thanksgiving Day is less than 48 hours away, and the annual Turkey Day game pits the Detroit Lions againts central division rival Green Bay. Many analysts, including Rome, have the Packers rolling over the Lions. Given their past several contests, that isn't going to happen.

In fact, wouldn't it be delightful to see the Lions stun Green Bay in front of a National television crowd? Or hear John Madden stammer that he "...knew all along the Lions weren't a bad team." Rome will talk about baseball, because he's never wrong. And Leno will talk about the Taliban ... without mention of Detroit.

Regardless of what occurs Thursday afternoon, fans of the Detroit Lions should rest easy knowing one, true fact: The 0-9 record is a mere statistic, and not reflective of how well they have played, or what the future may hold.

And anyone paying attention can attest.


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