In 1964, I assumed much good humor was to be found in sports.
When my publisher at the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune decreed I would write a weekly column on subjects of my choice, I decided to end each offering with a sports joke. Some national stories were available from a news service we subscribed to. I was sure I could find enough humor in and around local sporting events to fill in any blanks and end my column with a rib-tickler every Wednesday.
I was overly optimistic. Despite efforts by many comics and writers, there really weren’t all that many good sports jokes around. After a couple of months, I dropped the “leave ‘em laughing every Wednesday” strategy for want of material. That dearth of sports witticisms hasn’t changed much in the ensuing 45 years. But on Sunday morning, I think I “heard a good one lately.”
I was telling a dedicated Detroit Lions fan of my intent to root hard for the local favorites that day, for two reasons: (1) my beloved Packers were idle, and (2) the Lions were playing the Vikings. Minnesota would be led by an aged quarterback named Favre, who readers of this blog may know is not one of my favorite guys.
“Didn’t you hear the news this morning?” the Lions’ booster asked. “They’ve renamed the team. From now on, the Lions will be known as the Detroit Possums. It makes sense. They play dead at home, and get killed on the road.”
He said it; I didn’t. The “Possums” played true to form that afternoon. They suffered their 22nd consecutive loss on the road, which ran their record to 40 losses against just 3 wins since the midpoint of the 2007 season.
Even a joke at the Lions’ expense eases the pro football pain around here.