Matt Patricia is a Clown, But at Least He's Professional


To understand the sports world is not to understand how things should be, but rather how they are. And oftentimes they are entirely unreasonable. Fans can be ridiculous and the media vindictive. One would think Matt Patricia would know this from all his happy years in New England. Yet there he was yesterday, skipping the cost-benefit analysis and lecturing a reporter on professional presentation and posture, giving reasonable fans everywhere the opportunity to take shots.

This type of “get off my lawn” stuff is widespread and most times can be dismissed as the insignificant rantings of a person upset the world has stopped adhering to some sort of code of conduct that never really existed in the first place. It’s usually not a big deal.

But in Patricia’s case, it’s stands out as a particular galling episode of self-awareness deficiency. Surely this guy owns a mirror. Unkempt bearded chic and complementary baggy clothing is a fine look. Even the pencil behind the ear affectation is fine. At least it’s a signature look — never mind that Patricia’s play sheet is laminated.

And yet …

How could he not understand how ridiculous it would look for he — of all people — to belittle another person for their appearance and verticality? This is the same guy who wore a t-shirt depicting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as a clown. Did he look at one of those Men in Black memory erasers before Wednesday’s press conference, the one where he became the clown?

Here’s the hard reality. Detroit Lions fans have been beaten down for decades. They are in an abusive relationship with the local football team. It’s the same thing year after year. Hope builds only to be dashed. Empty seasons build upon empty seasons. Back in August, I received significant blowback for suggesting Patricia had a lot to learn about what it means to head this hapless franchise. That was after he jokingly chided the media for a lack of enthusiasm.

He wasn’t joking yesterday. He was trying to channel his mentor, Bill Belichick, but came off as cheap facsimile.

Patricia still doesn’t get it. He should thank his lucky stars that there are still people interested in hearing about this team. He should be glad there’s still some passion after the Lions completely wet the bed Sunday against Seattle. He should, obviously, be more concerned about his 3-4 record than the posture of an off-camera media reporter.

Go ahead, say it’s a small thing.

This will haunt him the way “playoffs” haunted Jim Mora, they way “they are who we thought they were” haunted Dennis Green. The way slapping himself in the head haunted John L. Smith.

Radio stations will use it as a drop from here to eternity. It will become cartoon fodder. No matter how serious a person Patricia tries to be, this clip will belie him, and paint him as a cartoon. People aren’t going to forget. He can’t run from this.

Winning — and winning a lot — will help. But again, this is Detroit, where that doesn’t happen. It’s a mess of his own making borne out of contempt. He  made his bed and he’ll lie in it. Perhaps he can make it, tucking in the corners all professional-like. We now know how important appearances are to him.