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Commentary: Detroit Lions major help for college football fans

By Nathan Bledsoe     2/5/09 6:00pm

"Lion football practice was delayed on Monday for two hours when one of the players looked down and noticed a suspicious-looking, unknown powdery substance on the practice field. He alerted the coaches, who immediately suspended practice and called the FBI to investigate. After a complete field analysis, the FBI determined the white substance, unknown to the players, was the goal line. Practice was resumed when FBI Special Agents decided that the team would not be likely to encounter the substance again." -http://ryansimmons.net/ michifun/lions.html

If the NCAA gave an award for NFL executive of the year, Matt Millen would be a perennial winner. Heck, nobody was more upset than I was to see him finally let go by the Detroit Lions. The man deserves to be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame for the tremendous work he has done. Dude's a saint.

Mr. Millen was actually on television Sunday night during halftime of the Super Bowl (also, how was that last play not a forward pass? Seriously? Oh well. I digress) and I couldn't help but smile at the man. He has single-handedly done more for football at the collegiate level than anyone else. Ever.

Well maybe not anyone ever, but most people. How did he do this, you might wonder?

Matt Millen built the franchise where dreams go to die. Matt Millen took a mediocre team and made them truly awful. Matt Millen was the architect of the haunted house we know as the Detroit Lions.

Baby Lion's parents are getting divorced. When the family goes to court, the judge asks Baby Lion, "Do you want to go live with Mommy Lion?"

"Oh no, I can't live with Mommy Lion, she beats me," Baby Lion says.

"What about Daddy Lion, then?" the judge asks.

"No way! Daddy Lion beats me too," says Baby.

"Well then who do you want to live with?" The judge asks, exasperated.

"I want to live with the Detroit Lions, because they don't beat anybody!"

Before I get into the meat of my Detroit-loving perspective, I'd just like to take a moment to reflect on just how bad the Lions actually are. They actually managed to finish the perfect season: 0-16, completely defeated. That's mind-boggling. That's so bad, it's poetic.

It's almost romantic, honestly, that a team could so fully know the concept of defeat. Over the last seven years, the Kittens have gone 31-81. Yes, fifty games under .500.

Fifty. Games. Good. Gravy.

'But what does this have to do with college ball?' you may ask. What could possibly be the relationship here? I've got a relationship for you: Joey Harrington. Charles Rodgers. Mike Williams. Those other receivers. Detroit is where receivers go to die, and quarterbacks go to cry. It's terrifying.

And it keeps players in college.

Sam Bradford. Tim Tebow. Colt McCoy. Three Heisman finalists, three players returning to college. Who has the first pick of the 2009 draft, you may be asking? The Detroit Lions, of course.

In the current era, the student-athlete who cherishes the commitment to getting the student aspect of his career fulfilled is a rare breed at the higher levels of sport. People were shocked when the tall, accomplished, intelligent, prototypical professional quarterback Sam Bradford decided to return to school for his junior campaign. While I don't know Mr. Bradford, I can't help but think that a paralyzing fear of becoming a Kitten had a lot to do with his decision to return to school.

This is why I am such a supporter of the Lions and their, um, "executives." I am, more than most, a college football fan, first and foremost. I love the spread. I love the option. I love everything that makes the game so much more diverse and exciting than the professional game. I love complaining about the Big Ten (a.k.a. the Whiny Eleven) and the BCS and the money that pollutes the game. And I love that the Kittens do everything they can to keep my game a little bit more pure.

And as to my opinion on players who still decided to come out early?*

Michael Crabtree and Matthew Stafford: be afraid. Be very afraid.

*I would like to point out that James Casey is exempted from this critique. Not only do I have no doubts he will finish his degree, but the fact that he spent a few years in the minor leagues and isn't as young as most college players makes his situation unique. He has a life and a family and the longevity of his career to consider.

Nathan Bledsoe is a Lovett College senior and former calendar editor.

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