Sports

And Slouch’s ‘09 Team of Destiny is …

I often spend weeks – even months – researching and ruminating over the Team of Destiny.Other than selecting my next spouse, choosing my Team of Destiny is the single most important decision I make in any given year.

But this year’s choice was a no-brainer, which, naturally, favors my thought process.

And, ladies and gentlemen, this year’s NFL Team of Destiny is…

Not so fast.

How stupid do I look?

If I reveal the Team of Destiny this instant, you’re off playing Sudoku or tweeting before I finish writing this sentence. Heck, I’ve watched the Heisman Trophy show – you think they tell you who’s won the award before the first commercial break?

No, before I unveil this year’s shocking Team of Destiny, we’re going to sit back, pop open a Pabst Blue Ribbon and go over some Team of Destiny history.

Latecomers to Couch Slouch don’t comprehend the origin of the Team of Destiny program. The idea was simple: Take a team from the league’s scrapheap – preferably one coming off several bad years – and spiritually steer that franchise to a turnaround. Some people believe the Arizona Cardinals failed me as the Team of Destiny last season because they lost the Super Bowl. Nonsense! The Team of Destiny’s goal is to make the Super Bowl.

I always chose a new Team of Destiny each year; however, I stuck with the Cardinals through five seasons because they acquired otherworldly Kurt Warner, with whom I developed a special, extraterrestrial relationship when he was with the Rams. And my patience paid off: He became the first quarterback to lead a Team of Destiny to the Super Bowl, and I got invited to an off-season dinner at Warner’s home on Planet Alderaan.

Back here on Earth, I now need to designate the next destiny-kissed ne’re-do-well.

As I said, there was no debate this year. Why quibble over the merits of various 3-13, 4-12 and 6-10 mediocrities when you have 0-16 staring at you?

That’s right, folks, the Detroit Lions are your next Team of Destiny.

The NFL’s first 0-16 team in history – a franchise with eight consecutive losing years and one playoff victory in 51 seasons – will improbably roar into Super Bowl 44.

Hey, if the Ford Motor Co. can make a comeback, if the city of Detroit can make a comeback, if America can make a comeback, then certainly the Lions can make a comeback.

For starters, the Lions have been freed from Matt Millen. Under Millen’s direction – he made the Skipper in “Gilligan’s Island” look like Vasco da Gama – the Lions suffered through some of the worst NFL drafts ever. He couldn’t find hay in a haystack.

(By the way, in the 2001-to-2008 Millen era, the Lions lost their first 11 games and their last 17 games. In between, they went a respectable 31-69.)

I am bullish on the Lions’ new coach, Jim Schwartz. To me, he is one part Knute Rockne, one part Albert Einstein and two parts Winston Churchill, plus he once had an unpaid position under Bill Belichick, which means he has been exposed to TRUE GENIUS.

The ’09 Lions aren’t your ’08 Lions. Gone are more than half the players – last year: chicken liver; this year: coq au vin – and these Lions will party like it’s 1999 (the last time they made the playoffs).

What, I’m supposed to fret because quarterback Daunte Culpepper got eight stitches near one of his toes from tripping over his own home carpet? Blessings come in many forms, my friends. Or, as Rick said so sublimely in “Casablanca,” “It seems that destiny has taken a hand.” In this case, destiny has taken a foot, and Culpepper’s misstep means that the superlative No. 1 draft pick, Matthew Stafford, can lead the Lions to the promised land, which this season is just off Exit 2X on the Florida Turnpike near a Hooters.

So you read it here first, unless you stopped reading when I mentioned Sudoku:

Last season, the Cardinals – who had never made a Super Bowl – got there. This season, the Lions – who have never made a Super Bowl – will get there. It’s not delusion; it’s destiny.

Ask The Slouch

Q. How come so many Super Bowl heroes – Timmy Smith, Larry Brown, David Tyree, et al – are NFL busts evermore? (Cynthia Cole; Carmel, Ind.)

A. It’s like I tell my step kids – one day you’re catching a ball against the top of your helmet for the greatest moment in Super Bowl history, the next day you’re sitting on your butt in a Jersey diner ordering a cheeseburger deluxe hold the pickles.

Q. You’re a reasonable man – how come I’ve never heard you pillory Chad Johnson for becoming Chad Ochocinco? (David Black; Spokane)

A. In America, you are who you want to be. If the man is happier and healthier as Chad Ochocinco, so be it. Whatever works, sir – for instance, LL Cool J originally, I believe, was LL Grabilovitch J.

Q. Should the Steelers’ record sixth Super Bowl title have an asterisk since Tom Brady was out all season? (David Treat; Pittsburgh)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Norman Chad is a syndicated columnist. You can enter his $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!



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