The 2011 season started out with a bang for the Detroit Lions. After two consecutive comeback victories and a triumphant return to Monday Night Football en route to a 5-0 record, the Lions were the darlings of the National Media.
Seen perhaps as a Cinderella team that could challenge the juggernaut Green Bay Packers for the NFC North crown, public opinion seemed to be at an all-time high. However, just as America loves a comeback, they love to see the team on top falter even more. As the Lions have strung together two close loses, each loss was marred with controversy. Controversy that could be applied to either the Lions or their opponents in both cases, but which was initially pegged solely on the backs of the Lions. And with any type of news, the majority of people only remember the initial story and seldom see both sides leading my wandering mind to wonder.
A good location to see this, and where it appears to be jump starting, is in on www.ProFootballTalk.com. As everyone knows, the valuable blog relayed a story from the Atlanta Journal regarding the supposed taunting by Cliff Avril and Ndamukong Suh toward an injured Matt Ryan. Rather than taking resposibility and actually verifying the story by viewing video that refutes the claims, the writer simply adds a shot that Suh is continuing to add to his reputation as a dirty player. Simply viewing the video that would have proved Roddy White was exaggerating his claims obviously would have implored the author to state as such in the article. The original post had 160 comments to it and stands as one of the most popular updates to the site over the last two weeks. A subsequent post with Cliff Avril’s side to the story (with the evidence to back him up) had a mere 42 comments. It can only be imagined the differences in actual readers between the two posts, the vast majority who didn’t read the follow up can only be assumed to be Lions haters now.
In addition, while Jim Schwartz was clearly out of bounds with his temper tantrum following the week 6 loss to the 49ers, he was definitively villified for his response to Jim Harbaugh’s boastful celebration. Both men were wrong, probably equally so, but ProFootballTalk has done little to show Schwartz side, merely exaggerating Schwartz’ antics during the incident and digging up as much dirt as possible on Schwartz to further justify Harbaugh’s slight. There’s another side to this story that we know nothing about. If Schwartz were fat and coached oh, say the Jets or the Cowboys defense, he probably would have been met with a chuckle and a, “There goes Schwartz…at it again”. Now, thanks to ProFootballTalk, he’s probably somewhere between OJ Simpson and Chris Brown (the singer) in the US’s most popular list.
So, while I’m normally not someone to develop conspiracy theories, there seems to be something that doesn’t pass the smell test with the national coverage of the Lions over the past two weeks. It should be really interesting to see not only how the Lions respond to their mini-slide, but how ProFootballTalk and the rest of the national media spins it.