The Detroit Lions made NFL history on Sunday night, ending their season 0-16 after a 31-21 loss to the Packers at Green Bay. It was the epitome of failure. An article in the NY Times by sportswriter Karen Crouse put it this way:

“The Lions’ emotions swung from hopefulness to helplessness to humiliation as the fact sank in that they had replaced the 1976 expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who finished 0-14, as the benchmark for badness.”

Watching part of the second half on Sunday with a friend, I thought to myself: What on earth is their motivation to win this thing? What could the coach possibly say to them at half time? “1-15 means victory boys!” Ugh.

Well, whatever was said, it was enough to keep them hoping well into the fourth quarter that maybe they could come back and somehow not be the worst team of all time, until…some infighting on a promising drive near the end of game earned them a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which ultimately led them to give up the ball. They did not get it back.

To me, this is a timely illustration about the difference between new years celebrations and new years resolutions. The Lions need to celebrate this new year. As was made evident in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field, resolutions do not work when you’ve dug yourself to the bottom of a deep dark pit of failure. At that point, you need to go home and get Billy Idol to help you realize,

“It’s a nice day for a white wedding
It’s a nice day to start agaaaaaaaaaaaain”

The beauty of New Years Day is a clean slate, and this brings new motivation to be a new person. Unfortunately, resolutions usually bring false-hopes that can only reveal to us how much of the old person still helplessly remains. And that can be humiliating.

So here’s to the Lion’s resurrection in ’09! Happy New Year to all.