Posted on July 19, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Success is something that is meant to be celebrated, whatever it is. This is true in life much the same as it is in the NFL. But there comes a time when the definition of success becomes questionable. For instance, when participation trophies are handed out. All you had to do to earn it was show up.
Is that really worth celebrating?
In the NFL, ‘participation’ is celebrated the one way it should be, with paychecks. For those that show up more than others (literally and metaphorically) those checks have more zeroes and bigger numbers—as they should.
But there is a form of ‘celebration’ in the NFL that is akin to the participation trophies kids receive in peewee football—playoff banners. Yes, making the playoffs is something worthy of recognition. But unless you win the Super Bowl, there is someone better than you. Celebrating that is like celebrating mediocrity.
The Detroit Lions appear to have decided they are done celebrating mediocrity. In years past, they participated in the practice of hanging banners at Ford Field in recognition of a season they made the playoffs. But they will not be doing so for last season. In fact, they have decided to end the practice altogether and have taken down the banners celebrating their playoff berths in 1970, 1982, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2011, and 2014.
Team president Rod Wood informed the media of the decision while giving a tour of Ford Field recently following $100 million in renovations. He said he didn’t see any point in putting them back up and that the team wanted something to celebrate something more than just making it to the playoffs.
As could be expected, when the team has done so in the past, it has come under fire. Fans criticized the decision to hang playoff banners as a reminder of the team’s long-running postseason futility.
But to be fair, they are not the only ones to do engage in the practice. The Indianapolis Colts hung an ‘2014 AFC Finalist’ banner following their trip to the AFC Conference Championship Game— where they were thrashed by the New England Patriots.
Much like the Lions were blasted for hanging playoff banners, the Colts were for hanging it—even though it wasn’t the first time they’d done so.
The Lions will be leaving up some banners for the victories worth celebrating:
- Western Division in 1935
- National Conference in 1952
- Western Conference in 1953, 1954 and 1957
- NFC Central in 1983, 1991 and 1993
- NFL Championships in 1935, 1952, 1953 and 1957
From now on, they will celebrate only the things that matter—you know, like an NFC North division championship, the NFC Championship, or the Super Bowl. The closest they’ve come to winning the NFC North were the three times they finished second. Since the merger in 1970, they have only won one playoff game (1991 Divisional Round against the Dallas Cowboys).
So they haven’t really come close to winning anything in a really long time.