So Detroit Lions fans, it was a bad year. No shit, Sherlock, I know.
Usually I wouldn’t give a damn about the hopes and dreams of Lions fans. I’m a Bears fan. Y’all can really burn in hell for all I could care. That’s what Barry Sanders and Herman Moore will do to you. But it’s the holiday season and you’ve been put through a lot, namely the collapse of the American automobile industry and nearly nine years of Matt Millen.
So in an attempt to bring you some holiday cheer – which I’m sure you didn’t get as your beloveds achieved infamy on Sunday – I’m going to show you that sure 0-16 is bad, but there have been worse years in recorded history. No, really, take a look:
2007 – Michael Vick
In 2006, Atlanta Falcons electrifying quarterback Michael Vick was among the top 10 richest athletes in the U.S. Within 12 months, the Falcons were seeking millions back and he filed for bankruptcy to protect what he had left while serving a 23-month prison sentence for felony dogfighting charges. There might not be a quicker descent in sports history than Michael Vick’s.
2007 – Lindsay Lohan
Michael Vick wasn’t the only young millionaire to run afoul of the law in 2007. Lohan had quite the fall from grace in 2007. Maxim’s “Hot 100” No. 1 went on a downward spiral that would make Robert Downey Jr., Christian Slater and Charlie Sheen blush.
On Jan. 18, she checked herself into rehab and dropped her role in “A Woman of No Importance” (the role later went to Jessica Biel. I’ll thank her later.). In May, “Georgia Rule” was released. The film, which co-stars Felicity Huffman and Jane Fonda, flopped and grossed just $22 million worldwide. Later that month, Lohan lost control of her car and ran off the road. Police found cocaine in her car and detected coke in her blood. She was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI and entered rehab two days later.
In June, Lohan canceled an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” where she was scheduled to promote her new movie “I Know Who Killed Me.” Her role as a “promising young college student” as the synopsis reads (or a stripper as the movie shows) earned Lohan two worst actress nominations at the Golden Raspberry Awards. She came in first and second. Rottentomatoes.com’s consensus review: “Distasteful and ludicrously plotted, ‘I Know Who Killed Me’ is a career nadir for all involved.”
(Wow, that’s two blog posts this year with the word “nadir” in them.)
Then came this nugget out of Entertainment Weekly, which quoted a head of a major film studio, “Right now, she’d have to pay a studio to get herself into a movie.”
On July 24, police found Lohan and her former assistant in a heated argument in her parked car. Of course, Lohan failed a sobriety test and had cocaine in her pocket. She was booked on a felony charge of possession, another misdemeanor DUI and driving with a suspended license. In August, she pleaded guilty to cocaine use and DUI and was sentenced to one day in jail and 10 days community service, after which she checked into rehab for the third time in 2007.
1987 – Gary Hart
In 1987, Colorado Senator Gary Hart announced his intentions to run for President. Hart had run for the Oval Office four years earlier, but lost the Democratic nomination to Walter Mondale in a very tight race (Mondale took one on the chin via Ronald Reagan in the general election). Despite the setback, Hart was considered the future of the Democratic Party. Hart officially declared his candidacy on April 13. It didn’t take long before rumors began circulating about Hart’s extramarital affairs.
In May, Hart responded to the rumors in The New York Times pulling what is now referred to as a Blagojevich. “Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored,” Hart said. Well, apparently reporters from The Miami Herald had been tailing the Senator and noted continuous rendezvouses with a young blonde that looked nothing like Mrs. Hart.
Both articles ran on the same day. Hart denied The Herald’s claim and cried foul.
The Herald later received a tip about the Senator and a non-Mrs. Hart spending a night in the Bahamas aboard a yacht appropriately named, “Monkey Business.” Photos of Hart and Donna Rice, a 29-year old model, were published in the National Enquirer. Hart dropped out of the race and blamed the media elite for his downfall rather than his own infidelity.
But that wasn’t the last of Hart. In December, he re-entered the race. “Let’s let the people decide!” he declared. He competed in the New Hampshire primary and received four percent of the vote.
Hart was never elected to public office again.
1989 – Everybody
“Pound Puppies” was canceled. We all died a little bit.
1899 – Cleveland Spiders
As far as baseball fans are concerned, the 1962 New York Mets are the worst team in baseball history, no questions asked. While the Mets blew (40-120), they don’t own the Major League record for losses in a season. That distinction belongs to the 1899 Cleveland Spiders.
Prior to the 1899 season, Frank and Stanley Robinson, owners of the Spiders, bought the St. Louis Perfectos. The Robinsons maintained ownership of the Spiders and since both teams played in the National League there was an obvious conflict of interest. The brothers decided that a good team in St. Louis would draw more fans, so 17 days before the start of the season they transferred the Spiders’ best players to St. Louis. Among them were Hall of Famers Cy Young, Jesse Burkett and Bobby Wallace.
The Spiders finished an epically inept 20-134 that year. In the final season of the 19th century, the Cleveland Spiders finished 84 games behind the pennant-winning Brooklyn Superbas. They were so bad they couldn’t attract any fans to their home games. Road teams refused to travel to Cleveland’s ballpark. As a result, they played their final 36 games on the road, which helps explain why they lost 40 of their last 41 contests.
A local sports writer Elmer Bates went semi-Letterman on his readers with a Top Five list of reasons to root for the Cleveland Spiders:
There is everything to hope for and nothing to fear.
Defeats do not disturb one’s sleep.
An occasional victory is a surprise and a delight.
There is no danger of any club passing you.
You are not asked 50 times a day, “What was the score?” People take it for granted that you lost.
Hmm, the prehistoric Cubs fan perhaps?
Appropriately enough, they ceased to exist in 1900. But despite their dissolution, the Spiders hold a record that can never be broken. In 1899, they lost 109 road games. Under MLB’s schedule (81 home/road games each) that can never happen again.
Oct. 1813 – June 1814 – Napoleon
After a disastrous campaign in Russia, Napoleon is defeated in Leipzig at the Battle of Nations by the Sixth Coalition (an alliance between Austria, Prussia, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and several German states). It is considered the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I.
The Sixth Coalition then invaded France while Napoleon was fighting off a mutiny led by his bravest marshal, Michel Ney. Napoleon attempted to appease the Sixth Coalition by abdicating his throne to his son, but they demanded unconditional surrender and they exiled him to Elba, an island just off the coast of Italy. Napoleon attempted suicide, but the pill he used was old and weakened and he survived – only to give us Waterloo, another disaster, but that’s another year.
1991 – Pee-wee Herman (a.k.a. Paul Reubens)
Local police periodically watched the theater to bust pervs. As Reubens was leaving the Spank Tank, a police officer stopped him. Reubens offered to do a children’s benefit for the sheriff’s office in attempts to keep the incident hush-hush. Pee-wee was arrested. When The Sarasota Herald noticed Reubens’ name in the blotter, Reubens’ attorney offered up yet another live Pee-wee Herman Show for the kids.
At the time of his arrest, CBS had been airing “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” re-runs and Reubens hadn’t been in character for nearly 16 months. So when the public got a glimpse of his mugshot where he looked like even more of a pedophile than Pee-wee Herman ever could, it was quite the blow to Reubens’ career.
CBS stopped airing the show immediately and even worse, Toys-R-Us removed all Pee-wee toys from its stores. In the end, Reubens agreed to a plea of no contest, paid a $50 fine, court costs of $85.75 and at least 75 hours of community service. Reubens wasn’t heard from again really until 1999 when he was cast in “Mystery Men.” Yup, I’d say 1991 was a bad year for Paul Reubens.
Sept. 1970 – July 1971 – Rock and Roll
Three legends of rock died in less than a 12-month span – all from apparent overdoses.
On Sept. 18, Jimi Hendrix was the first to go. He drowned in a pool of his own vomit and red wine. Janis Joplin went two weeks later (Oct. 4). Joplin was found in her hotel room dead from an apparent heroin overdose. Jim Morrison was the last of the rock triumvirate to perish, also apparently of a heroine overdose. Morrison was found in his Paris apartment bathtub, however no autopsy was performed because of French law.
Don McLean points to Feb. 3, 1959 as “The Day the Music Died.” Well, if that’s the case, 1970-71 was the year Rock and Roll died.
1794 – Maximilien Robespierre.
This French revolutionary became the leader of the Reign of Terror, a 15-month period of violence marked by mass executions via the guillotine. Maximilien Robespierre dominated the Committee of Public Safety and was somewhat a de facto dictator. He ordered the arrest of radical journalist Jacques Hebert and his followers, The Hebertists, on March 19. They were guillotined March 24.
Robespierre claimed his contemporaries were too lenient toward enemies of the Revolution, so Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins and their friends were arrested on March 30 and executed April 5. He then helped pass the Law of 22 Prairial, which allowed for condemnation without the need of witnesses. More than 1,285 were guillotined in Paris.
Then we have the classic guy-gets-power-drunk-and-overthrown scenario. Things went south pretty quickly for Robespierre and his crew. In late July, he accused members of the Revolutionary Convention of conspiracy. Soon thereafter, he himself was accused of conspiracy. Robespierre and his cronies were ordered to be arrested and considered fugitives meaning they could be killed within 24 hours without trial.
As troops came to arrest them, Robespierre’s brother threw himself out of a window. Another buddy was found sprawled out at the bottom of a staircase. Another dude jumped out a window only to break his legs. One slit his wrists and another shot himself in the head.
Robespierre tried to shoot himself in the head as well, but wound up just shattering his jaw. He was found passed out and was arrested. The next day, July 24, he was ironically guillotined without trial and, according to local legend, was the only man to be guillotined face up, so he could see his death approaching. Ouch.
Honorable mention: OJ (2008) – Dude gets away with murder then gets pinched 13 years later trying to get his own shit back. Eddie Murphy (1997) – Turns out Eddie likes Distinguished Gentle-well, whatevers. It’s one thing to get caught with a prostitute, it’s another to be caught with a transexual one. Roger Clemens (2007) – From a first ballot Hall of Famer to a disgraced steroid user and adulterer. Clemens made Barry Bonds, the Home Run King, seem insignificant.