Lions, MNF and Bears
Yes, we Lions have finally made it.... to the second-tier level of popularity?
Everyone is excited about the Detroit Lions playing a real Monday Night Football game, in October and against the Bears. I'm afraid, though, the people who should be most happy are from Chicago, as they can travel a short distance to see their team. I don't know if the Bears will crush the Lions, but based on recent years, early bets are the Bears. As for the night of the week, it's not that big a deal anymore.
But hey, it's still a night game, so a little bit of primetime celebration is in order.
I was at the last Monday Night Football hosted by the Lions, back in 2001 when a young Marty Mornhinweg was 0-2 and ready for his first win. New team president Matt Millen was ready to reinvent team leadership. I didn't watch the game; didn't need to, it turned out. However, I covered the fans excitement over being on the real MNF on ABC. It was the team's last season at the Pontiac Silverdome, so I ended up covering a few finals .... final Thanksgiving tailgate, final night game, final game.
The Lions ended up getting smoked by Mike Martz and Kurt Warner, 35-0, I believe. They would lose 10 more games before Marnhinweg got to celebrate a victory as a head football coach in a professional league. He didn't ride his Harley to practice to celebrate after that eventual win.
Of course, Mornhinweg's inaugural season ended 2-14. He improved with a 50 percent increase in wins in 2002, the first season in Ford Field in downtown Detroit, ending his career with a 5-27 record for a .154 winning percentage - lower even than Rod Marinelli's .200 career record with Detroit (which included the infamous 0-16 record).
Mornhinweg went on back to Philadelphia, where he leads the Eagles' offense. The Lions went downtown, where they have wowed the world with losing.
And MNF, well, it went to cable, where it is now the second-tier NFL showcase. Not to knock ESPN, but, they aren't like ABC or NBC. Instead of all the rowdy friends coming over on Monday, they come over on Sunday's now, where NBC has led a successful reinvention of how America watches football. It's not important on Monday; it's Sunday that is "football night in America."
But like every Lions fan believes, this is a new season. This could be the year. However, MNF isn't any kind of 'making it' or show of respect. That comes if we're still playing in January.