Embrace the notoriety

EMBRACE THE NOTORIETY…. I’m not a Lions fan, and I have no emotional investment in this whatsoever, but I think Detroit can find a silver lining in all of this.

The final two minutes of the Detroit Lions’ history-making season had a soundtrack that in no way resembled the stentorian baritone of John Facenda. The voices belonged to the 70,141 fans at Lambeau Field, many of whom serenaded the Lions with the chant “0 and 16.”

With a 31-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the Lions became the first N.F.L. team to lose 16 regular-season games. Battling back to tie the Packers, 14-14, late in the third quarter, the Lions were outscored by 17-7 in the final 15 minutes.

The Lions’ emotions swung from hopefulness to helplessness to humiliation as the fact sank in that they had replaced the 1976 expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who finished 0-14, as the benchmark for badness. Never mind the N.F.L., the Lions are now in the league of Zippy Chippy, a New York-bred gelding who lost all 100 of his races.

Now, if I had a choice, I’d actually prefer that my team go 0-16, as compared to 1-15. I realize this is counterintuitive — if winning games is the goal, one is better than none.

But here’s the thing — plenty of teams have finished their seasons with just one victory. Sure, it’s humiliating, but it’s also fairly routine.

If you’re going to have a bad year, why not have the worst year? If the Lions had gone 1-15, folks would say, “Wow, Detroit was really awful.” But by going without any wins at all, people get to say, “Wow, no one has ever been this awful.”

Isn’t it better to be memorable? No one cares about those who are merely awful, but everyone cares about those who uniquely dreadful.

I say, embrace the historic nature of unrivaled failure. Take pride in being a part of something truly “special.”

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