Is there any more appropriate symbol of 2008's crushing futility than to see the most financially ravaged major city in the country field the worst team in modern NFL history and complete the dubious record on the last weekend of arguably the worst year in America in generations?
The 1976 expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 0-14, were the last team to complete a season without a win.
“I’ve got to live with this,” Lions center Dominic Raiola said. “This is on my resume.”
It’s also on the resume of Lions coach Rod Marinelli, whose job is in jeopardy.
The Lions’ last loss didn’t come without a fight. After falling behind 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter, Kevin Smith’s 9-yard touchdown run put Detroit back within a field goal.
But Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers responded with a 71-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver, and the Lions’ Dan Orlovsky threw an interception on fourth-and-27 with 3 minutes left, dooming Detroit to futility of historic proportion.
“It’s just kind of numb,” veteran kicker Jason Hanson said. “It’s here. It’s been coming, though, a train rolling down the tracks for a while. We tried to stop it. We couldn’t.”
The Lions were building toward this for years and now have lost 23 of their last 24 games.
The 0-16 record will be a lasting testimony to the Matt Millen era.
If the smashmouth, fight back Pittsburgh Steelers and their 3 Super Bowl wins represented America's soul during the blue-collar 70's, the showtime Broadway Joe-led San Francisco 49ers the team of the high-flying 80's with their 4 wins captured America's spirit, and the domination of the Aikman-era "Science of Football" Dallas Cowboys epitomized the high-tech 90's with their 3 wins in 4 seasons represented our rise to the "unipolar moment" of the Clinton era, the NFL team that represents this country's very essence during the Big Zeroes may indeed deserve to be the Detroit Lions, a team that steadily grew worse from 9-7 in 2000 until this year's nadir of absolute zero as we head into the worst financial storm in generations.
If that's not a perfect parable for this country over the last eight years under its current management, I don't know what is.