Detroits gridiron gladiators were officially welcomed into the real NFL Sunday afternoon in Chicago.
Given the accolades that are usually reserved for legitimate playoff contending teams, the Lions faced a Bears team that had been seething for weeks, awaiting their rematch with the Honolulu Blue and Silver.
And the Monsters of the Midway lived up to their name, routing the Lions 37-13.
Detroit limps home with a bloodied nose and bruised ego, which might be beneficial, depending on how the Lions now react.
After starting the season with five victories, the Lions have lost three of their last four -- two of them at home -- and have replaced the Oakland Raiders as the team everybody loves to hate.
Since the losing began, the Lions have made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Weve witnessed coach-on-coach crime, accusations of taunting an injured player, Ndamukong Suh meeting with the NFL commissioner to clarify what he can and cannot do, numerous personal-foul penalties, and Matthew Staffords helmet-grabbing takedown of a Bear that ignited an on field brawl.
While they were rolling off victories, the Lions were one of the leagues feel-good stories. Although their physical play was being questioned, the team was uplifting a downtrodden Detroit (old bit), whose residents can only weather the cesspool theyre living in (national perception) when their sports teams are creating winning memories.
It appears that the Lions have bought into their own premature hype. From their head coach on down, theyre smug, arrogant and immature.
Many could counter by contending that the Lions are confident, tough and hate to lose.
That might be true, but most -- if not all -- of their indiscretions have occurred during a loss, which makes their conduct repugnant.
The Lions had an opportunity to make a resounding statement at Soldier Field. Instead, they soiled themselves once again.
Weve seen this act before from the Lions.
Whenever the football world is watching, Detroit fails miserably. Being embarrassed is humiliating enough, but now our new-attitude Lions come off as immature, self-centered punks.
This is not to imply that the Lions should embrace a loss or losing. This is about maintaining a bit of composure and dignity while facing adversity.
You cannot change the scoreboard with cheap shots and trash-talk after the fact. The only way the Lions can reverse their slide is through their play on the field.
They cannot get caught up in all this extra-curricular nonsense that takes away from the task at hand -- winning football games -- that will ultimately reverse the culture of losing that has embraced this franchise for an eternity.
From handshakes to he-said-he-said games to outrage for being disrespected, its all garbage in the grand scheme of things.
Toughness and professionalism are not measured in personal fouls. Respect is not earned by trash-talking.
It's time to grow up Lions. Enough of your immature buffoonery and your bloated egos.
You still have plenty of time to make this a truly memorable season. That will mean playing with intense passion, determined focus and, most important, composed discipline.
You have to play like men.
From your recent act, its a toss-up as to whether you can concentrate on football or just yourselves.