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Lions' maddening season makes perfect sense

By MICHAEL ROSENBERG

Lions' maddening season makes perfect sense

January 20, 2011

We're almost at the end of the Road to XVI, so if you really have to go, just hold it in. We'll be there soon enough. With just 60 more minutes of exquisitely horrendous football in Green Bay, the Lions will have achieved their goal of an 0-16 season.

This accomplishment is many years in the making -- the Lions had to fire a bunch of coaches and draft dozens of bad players before they finally perfected the recipe for failure.

'XV' down, just 'I' to go. Nothing is Possible. Here at the Free Press, we plan to treat the Lions' triumph with the reverence it deserves. So today, we begin a special feature:

"The Road to XVI's Countdown to Time Expiring."

Every day this week, we will have a special Road to XVI column, complete with bonus words and almost fully formed opinions.

Today: Five Days Away from Green Bay.

We have two items on the agenda. The first, of course, is that we must applaud William Clay Ford Sr. for publicly confirming the news that we broke here a few weeks ago: The Lions are trying to go 0-16.

Why else would Ford tell Booth Newspapers that he plans to bring back executives Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew? Clearly, Lewand and Mayhew are being rewarded for their roles this season.

Ford is a businessman first, and obviously he has decided to create a niche product. Thirty-one NFL teams are trying to win. The Lions are the only ones trying to lose. Ford saw an opening in the marketplace and went after it.

The man is a genius.

And if you look at your NFL standings this morning, you'll notice that the other 31 teams have all lost at least twice, while the Lions haven't even won once.

So you tell me: Who is getting the job done?

"Those are two good men," Head Man Rod Marinelli said of Lewand and Mayhew. "They've got a great history here."

I know what you're thinking: "There is no way that Marinelli actually said 'They've got a great history here.' No way. Rosenberg made that up. You can't trust any columnist these days."

In fact, Marinelli absolutely did say that. But speaking of Marinelli and columnists, we will now address the second item on our agenda: Marinelli's tiff with Detroit News columnist Rob Parker.

Sunday afternoon, while the Saints were still picking the Lions out of their cleats, Parker asked Marinelli about defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Barry is Marinelli's son-in-law.

"On a lighter note," Parker said, "do you wish your daughter would have married a better defensive coordinator?"

This has created a national media firestorm. Fox's Terry Bradshaw called Parker a "flat idiot." And Monday, Marinelli was still angry.

"I just think anytime you attack my daughter, I got a problem with that -- in a room of stink, and as a man, and it was premeditated," Marinelli said. "I think there is something wrong with that, yeah."

Now, I need to make three points here. One is that I've spent considerable time in the news-conference room at Ford Field, and though most sports writers only shower once a week, that day is usually Sunday. So the room doesn't really stink. Frankly, the locker room smells much worse, even after games like Sunday's, when the Lions barely broke a sweat.

The second thing is that Rob Parker is a friend of mine, even though we haven't agreed on anything since 2006, when he acknowledged that my daughter is cute.

And the third thing is that Rob's question was unprofessional and inappropriate. I'm sure you'll agree: Whenever you give Terry Bradshaw a legitimate reason to call you an idiot, you've messed up.

Also, I don't agree with Parker's assertion in his Monday column that his relationship with Marinelli is "built on mutual respect." Marinelli doesn't want anybody to think he is getting to him. Marinelli thinks Parker is trying to get to him, so he goes out of his way to let Parker know that he isn't.

"I can shoulder anything you bring," Marinelli said Monday.

Plug that into the Rod Marinelli Translator, and here is what you get: "Bite me."

Thankfully, Marinelli is still focused on the task at hand: losing to the Packers. When somebody asked Marinelli if he hopes that the possibility of finishing 0-16 will motivate his players, he said: "I don't hope."

Take that as you will.

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