Friday, December 4, 2015

Misery loves company

And now a new feature the Blob just thought up, Who Is More Pathetic?, in which we attempt to determine which professional sports franchise is inflicting deeper suffering on its fan base, the holiday season notwithstanding.

Your contestants are:

1. The Philadelphia 76ers.

2. The Detroit Lions.

3. The Cleveland Browns.

Let's eliminate "1" right off the jump, because the 76ers are not really a professional sports franchise anymore -- deliberately attempting to lose disqualifies them -- and their fan base already knows they're deliberately attempting to lose, so there's no real heartache involved. Plus, the fan base is down to about two guys -- one of whom wandered into the building thinking he was coming to a Flyers game, and the other of whom keeps saying "We'll be fine as soon as Doc Erving comes back from knee surgery."

So: Lions or Browns?

Ordinarily this wouldn't be such a difficult decision, given that the Browns claim to have retired the Pathetic trophy a long time ago. They haven't won a title since 1964, they actually abandoned Cleveland only to come back (sealing Cleveland's berth as a Be Careful What You Wish For finalist) and every quarterback they draft turns out to be Tim Couch or Johnny Manziel. And, of course, they lose the way nobody loses games. See: The Drive, The Fumble, and that thing that happened Monday night, when a potential game-winning field goal on the last play of the game (against the old Browns, no less) turned into a blocked kick and a game-winning touchdown for the Ravens.

It was, everyone concluded, the most Browns thing ever.

Of course, what happened last night had to be the most Lions thing ever.

What happened was the Lions crawled all over the visiting Packers for three quarters, piling up a 20-0 lead and reducing Aaron Rodgers to throwing lame shovel passes because nothing else was open. And they were still leading 23-14 with just over three minutes left.

After which a few things happened.

Rodgers scored, cutting the lead to 23-21. Then the Lions got ticketed for a sketchy facemask on Rodgers on the last snap of the game, giving the Packers one extra snap. Then Rodgers heaved an absolute prayer toward the end zone 61 yards away -- call it a Hail Mary with a few complimentary saints thrown in -- and tight end Richard Rodgers pulled in to give the Packers a 27-23 win.

It dropped the Lions to 4-8 and certified that, once again, a Super Bowl title will not be coming to Detroit this year. Like anyone thought it was anyway, because the Lions haven't won an NFL title since 1957, seven years before the Browns' last title.

There's been a lot of Alex Karras and Billy Sims and Barry Sanders since then, but no hardware. That's because there's also been a lot of Bill Munson and Ulysses Norris and Jeff Komlo, too. And unlike the Browns, who at least almost reached the Super Bowl a few times, the Lions have actually been closer to the flesh-and-blood Lombardi than the trophy named after him.

Then again, at least they've never left.

Hmmm. I think that might have sealed it for the Lions.

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