Nov 22, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz on the sidelines in the second quarter of the Thanksgiving day game against the Houston Texans at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Was Jim Schwartz’s Thanksgiving Gaffe a Death Knell or Golden Opportunity?


The Detroit Lions seem to have a propensity for finding themselves in the middle of officiating controversies.

The Lions and Calvin Johnson forced us to learn about the “process of a catch”, a blown call on what should have been a Lions touchdown last year in Green Bay led to the changing of replay rules to allow all scoring plays to be reviewed automatically and now as a result of Thanksgiving Day we know that the current replay rules value sportsmanlike conduct above getting calls right.

Going forward it seems clear that another tweak to the replay rules are in store but that means nothing for the Lions now. The immediate questions in the wake of Thursday’s abomination surround Lions head coach Jim Schwartz.

Schwartz has had to deal with a number of player conduct issues ranging from stupid personal foul penalties on the field to drug and alcohol issues off the field. It didn’t take a wild stretching of the imagination to chalk up those problems as a reflection of the coach considering Schwartz’s occasional sideline antics yelling at opposing players and coaches. But there wasn’t firm proof that Schwartz is some kind of loose cannon that hurts the team – until Thursday.

Where Schwartz and the Lions end up from here remains to be seen but it is hard to imagine anything but two diverging paths.

His players will either see Schwartz as a hypocrite that expects a certain level of decorum from his players that he has now proven incapable of upholding himself. It is fairly obvious where this path leads. With credibility shattered, everything falls apart.

But that doesn’t have to be the endgame. Players more than anyone know that everyone makes mistakes and it is how one reacts to a mistake that is truly important. This is where Schwartz is off to a good start. He began accepting responsibility on the Lion sideline as soon as the mistake was apparent and continued accepting responsibility through the postgame press conference.

Now comes the hard part in that he must show some level of change so that a similar mistake is not made in the future. If that happens, it is possible that some good will come of this disastrous event and season.

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