Friday Night Lights: All Eyes on Harrington

Exhibition games aren't supposed to mean anything. Especially not the first one. That doesn't necessarily ring true for Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington, who enters the pre-season under a massive -- and perhaps premature -- microscope.

Exhibition games aren't supposed to mean anything. Especially not the first one.

The NFL pre-season serves a few purposes, among them, allowing piqued ball clubs to vent their camp frustrations on someone other than themselves; strategic experimentation; player evaluation and, of course, good ol' fashion league marketing.

And if you have your thumb on the pulse of Lions' football, feel free to toss quarterback Joey Harrington into the fray. Everyone else is.

Harrington, maligned after failing to deliver a winning campaign each of his three seasons in Detroit, will enter Friday's matchup against the New York Jets under a ridiculously large (and perhaps premature) microscope. Between the fans and the media, Harrington seemingly has a pre-season ultimatum: win or else.

The concensus has been that if Harrington can't get it done immediately, Jeff Garcia is only a checkdown away. The former Oregon Duck and No. 3 overall draft pick, however, has a different perspective.

"In one quarter we're not going to go out there and put up 30 points," Harrington responded, when asked about Friday's contest. "We're not going to throw up huge numbers on offense. But, we can have a good quarter... we're just looking for some sort of consistency; a way to kind of kick off the season."

That's the idea. Harrington has been pegged as the team's starting quarterback, but local media outlets aren't so sure head coach Steve Mariucci is convinced it will remain that way. In the meantime, an already pessimistic fan outlook has intesified after daily training camp reports -- most not reflecting the best on Harrington.

Most recently, former Steelers' quarterback and FOX Sports personality Terry Bradshaw was critical after a brief visit to the Lions' practice facility in Allen Park. Although Bradshaw had sound advice for Harrington and other Lions, he walked away unimpressed with the camp session. In particular, the quarterback.

Last weekend, during Detroit's traditional "Black and Blue" public-access practice session, a few Harrington mishaps were greeted by a shower of boos.

If training camp has had a negative influence on the Harrington outlook, a game -- even in the pre-season -- would further develop a saga that has, without question, spun completely out of control.

Harrington has acknowledged the pressure, and related it to what Bradshaw underwent in Pittsburgh.

"There are a few people on my back and there are a few people trying to come in and shake some things up," Harrington said. "But, I just have to be strong and keep trucking like I have been."

It won't be easy.

Although the Lions contend that nothing is going to change between now and September 11, the public opinion is crystal clear: Win now. Pre-season or otherwise.

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