Sports (especially baseball) has a number of well known curses. The Red Sox (Curse of the Bambino) and White Sox (Curse of the Black Sox) broke theirs last decade, but the Cubs (Curse of the Billy Goat) struggle on with no championship since 1908. My new favorite is the Curse of the Colonel: apparently Colonel Sanders cursed the Hanshin Tigers of Japan after they threw his KFC statue in a river during a championship celebration.
I don’t believe in curses, of course, but the Curse of Bobby Layne is one that came true. My Lions traded quarterback Bobby Layne to the Steelers in 1958 after he won the NFL championship the previous year because he was getting long in the tooth. Incensed, Layne told anyone who would listen that the Lions wouldn’t win again for 50 years. Fifty years later, the Lions clinched Layne’s prediction with the first 0-16 season in NFL history.
Things are looking up in Detroit these days. We made the playoffs for the first time since 1998. Am I optimistic? A little bit. However, there’s more magic afoot in the Motor City. The Lions hired Matt Millen as GM in 2001 (with no front office experience) and gave him nearly eight years to fiddle around. He had the worst eight years of any GM, ever. Read his Wikipedia page. I think he had a voodoo doll of owner William Clay Ford stashed away.
But what’s truly fascinating about Millen is his M fetish. He hired Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, and Rod Marinelli as head coaches, and Marty Schottenheimer and Mike Martz as offensive coordinators. None of these guys were successful. By the time Marinelli and Martz were hired, a few fans realized something was up. Just when I thought we were safe, the Lions hired Martin Mayhew to replace Millen. This is the Lions new curse: the Curse of the M’s.