Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, November 27, 2006

The revenge of Joey

It might have been the most predictable outcome on the Detroit Lions' 2006 schedule. When you ran down the games and saw Miami as the Thanksgiving Day opponent, you knew there was a possibility that Joey Harrington could come back and stick it to his former team (if he, not Daunte Culpepper, was the Dolphins' starter by then).

Some of you may have thought the Lions would have a chance to crush Joey, showing him that he was never right for this town. If you fall into this category, you really haven't been paying attention, and should brush your teeth because they're stained with Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid.

But then the Lions really began to ask for a beating, making things worse by trying to rattle their former quarterback during pre-game introductions. The Dolphins requested that their defense be introduced - surely to prevent the Ford Field crowd from booing Harrington - and the Lions almost accommodated them.

But they just couldn't resist poking an elbow at Joey, announcing his name to the fans. And they didn't just do that, either. The introduction was accompanied by Billy Joel's "Piano Man." Get it? Joey likes to play the piano. (And as I once wrote in a column for Motor City Sports Magazine, Detroit fans don't really dig that. Ask Grant Hill about that, too.) Oh, the Lions were giving the crowd an appetizer of hijinks to tide them over until they went home to their Thanksgiving feasts.

Of course, if Harrington actually had been rattled and taken out of his game by these tactics, maybe it would've been seen as a devious move by the Lions. But since Joey essentially dropped a grand piano on his former team with three touchdown passes, the pre-game frivolity ended up looking desperate and unprofessional.

But it's sad and it's sweet, and I knew it complete...

After being exposed like a bully who had his shoelaces tied together by the smart kid before a fight, the Lions said the attempt to embarrass Harrington was "an unfortunate error," one that was apparently unauthorized by upper management. And as a result, the team says it will be changing the way game-day operations are run, likely with management exercising a bit more control over the production of things such as pre-game introductions. Or that was just the right thing to say while wiping egg off of their collective faces. Who knows?

So if management is saying "wasn't me," who does this fall on? I interviewed Lions public address announcer Terry Braverman for a magazine piece almost two months ago, and think it's safe to assume this wouldn't have been his idea. He takes his job pretty damn seriously, and cares a great deal about his professionalism. (And anyone familiar with his work in the same capacity for Michigan State University would say the same thing.) The script for introductions, promotions, and announcements is given to him beforehand, and he goes over it with the production staff. Now that's not to say he's Ron Burgundy, and just reads whatever is put in front of him.

I'd hesitate to call out Bryan Bender, the Lions' director of broadcasting and promotion, for this, too - though this might end up at his feet. I set up my interview with Braverman through Bender, and in the interests of full disclosure, he helped me out quite a bit. But he's another guy who's concerned about professionalism, and wanted to make sure I wasn't just writing some fruity-tooty, "He talks into a microphone - whee!" kind of article.

It's certainly possible that somebody just decided to slip that stuff in a little while before game-time. Or maybe all this stuff just didn't seem that bad when going over it. Maybe it was seen as fun and good-natured. Oh, if only the Lions had won the game...

(Meanwhile, Joey wore the proverbial $#!+-eating grin in post-game interviews, calling the Lions' introduction "clever.")

Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness... But it's better than drinkin' alone...

So can we get back to the really important stuff? Like seriously ratcheting up the "Fire Millen" talk again? I'll save that for another post, but it's long past time the Lions pulled the plug on this total traveshamockery, isn't it? Light the torches and keep them blazing until the merciful end of this season.

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