As the Lions continue their march to sweet, inglorious perfection, we should take a moment to recognize that Detroit fans, while they have a strong case, aren't the only ones suffering. The players aren't exactly enjoying the 2008 season, and are facing the very real possibility of earning one of those scarlet "0-16" patches.
In fact, things have reached such a low point that Lions center Dominic Raiola makes no apologies about giving the finger to less than supportive fans.
But asked if he regretted giving the fans the business, he said he didn't. "I don't take one thing back," Raiola said Monday. "I'll say the same thing to a fan that I see in the street. I wish I could give my address out to some fans. I'll do that.Raiola's right, of course. Sure, the players are partly responsible -- they are playing, after all -- but head coach Rod Marinelli also deserves much of the blame, along with since-departed Matt Millen, the brains behind the current roster. (In fact, word the street is that Millen is still running the show. I'd be more shocked if you told me the Lions wouldn't bungle their first-overall pick in April.)
"But, you know, I can't. Nobody plays with fists. Everybody wants to play with metal. So I can't. I'm so frustrated. I'm tired of being a doormat for people to just talk to us how they want to talk to us. I'm just not going to put up with it anymore."
Look what first-year head coach Tony Sparano has done in Miami. With virtually the same players plus a castoff quarterback, he's taken Cam Cameron's one-win outfit and a year later has them battling for a division title and the playoffs. Yes, players play, but to finish the cliche, coaches also have to coach.
Which is a very long-winded way of saying: Raiola has every right to be frustrated, and I'm sure more than a handful of fans deserve to have their asses kicked. But as long as he's handing out whuppings, the Lions front office should probably queue up as well. Fair's fair.
Oh, and there's a chance the league fines Raiola -- puppy murderer Ron Mexico and handball wizard Jake Plummer both had their wages garnished for similar transgressions -- which, given how things have unfolded this season, sounds about right.