The Sad Tale Of The Great Lakes Freighter Trophy
It may have symbolized pro football at its worst. But now it's gone, sunk to the bottom of Lake Erie, one would hope.
When the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns line up Thursday night for a meaningless pre-season football game there will be nothing at stake, save for the pro careers of a few random players.
In this sad saga shared by the sports web site, The Athletic, I found out that the Lions and Browns used to play their exhibition game for something called 'The Great Lakes Freighter Trophy.' The winner got to take the monstrosity home and put it in a closet somewhere, because nobody wanted to display it.
The trophy and calling the game the 'The Great Lakes Classic' was the brain child of former Browns president Carmen Policy, who came up with the lame idea in 2002, trying to desperately to create interest in pre-season NFL football.
It even had a theme song, which mocked it's very existence.
Unfortunately, from 2002 on, the Cleveland and Detroit rivalry represented the worst of the NFL, so any attempt to get ANY excitement going, fell flat.
On top of that, the Lions were in the midst of the troubled Matt Millen era and he had no love for a stupid trophy.
“Me personally? I’m not big on any of that stuff,” Millen told the web site. “As far as I was concerned, it’s like, ‘Ehh.’ I didn’t really care about that. I want to see how our players are gonna play, how we’re going to approach it. Everything else is just…kind of fluff.”
So the 'Great Lakes Classic' idea slowly petered out. Overall, Cleveland won seven games to the Lions’ six.
But what became of the trophy itself?
Drydocked. Put in a back room somewhere, never to see the light of day. Last season, a Cleveland sports writer had his readers decide its fate, but it was gone when he went back. I really would have loved to have bought it on eBay.