Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lions in Wait

In honor of Thanksgiving, here is a letter I wrote to the General Manager of the Detroit Lions:

Let me begin by saying that I am not a Lions fan. In fact, my interests lie mostly in the AFC and I have no feelings about the Lions one way or the other. However, I see a way to help your team and feel it would be immoral to remain silent. While at first glance my solution may seem flippant, I hope you will consider all the evidence I will present on its behalf.

Your team needs a uniform redesign. A radical one.

Clearly to suggest that what someone wears is more important than strategies or personnel seems ridiculous on its face, but psychological studies have shown that certain colors tend to stir up certain emotions in people and may make them more or less competitive. I refer you to studies that have experimented with painting prisons pink to tranquilize the inmates. You can be sure that when the list of colors that stirs up competitive instincts and emotional fire is reviewed, Honolulu Blue is not found among them.

I would ask you to look at the empirical evidence. In 1993, the New England Patriots ditched their traditional colors and their unintimidating “Pat the Patriot” logo, instead adopting a streamlined symbol with deeper, more modern colors. In the 25 years prior to that, the Patriots had made only a single Super Bowl appearance where they were soundly beaten by the Chicago Bears. Four years after the change, the Patriots were in the Super Bowl, and four years after that, they began a dynasty that included three NFL championships in four appearances.

Throughout their entire existence, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the laughingstock of the NFL. They even included 14 consecutive losing seasons among their credits, all with their “creamsicle” colors and what some said was an effeminate “Bucco Bruce” logo. In 1997, they exchanged Florida Orange for metallic gold to go with a blood red and skull and crossbones logo. Four years later, they began a season that ended with them hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Lest you argue that it is the team, and not their colors, that determine victory, I would ask you to take a look at the Cleveland Browns, whose name in the NFL is synonymous with failure. In 1996, the team moved to Baltimore, requiring as radical a uniform change as there has ever been in the NFL. Four years later, the Baltimore Ravens were a championship team, while the Browns that replaced them, wearing their old, featureless orange helmets and brown and white uniforms, have shown no signs of life whatsoever.

If you want to win, just look at the evidence. Uniforms do make a difference. Ditch the Honolulu Blue for a deeper blue, black, or even something more befitting a lion like a deep orange. Make the silver more metallic and replace the logo with a more fearsome lion. The recent redesign of the emblem is a vast improvement over the amorphous blue blob that used to grace the Lions' helmets but it is not nearly enough.

I hope that you or whoever reads this letter will give these suggestions the credit they are due. Remember that I am not a Lions fan and have nothing invested in whether or not you take these suggestions to heart, only that I know that it will make a difference.

Thank you for your time and attention,

Craig Berger

If you're a Lions fan, you can thank me when they win the Super Bowl, four years after my uniform redesign plan is implemented.

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