- The Washington Times - Monday, September 11, 2000

PONTIAC, Mich. The Boy Owner was having a wonderful season until he hit this speed bump just off Interstate 75 yesterday.
The Boy Owner is young and wealthy and misunderstood, and he has tried to make it clear that he is almost a regular guy and not a former nerd who used to be subjected to taunts in high school.
The Boy Owner, it seems, is a humanitarian who gives at the office, who hands out candy to children on Halloween, who befriends lepers and helps the poor in Calcutta.
The Boy Owner also has put his money into his favorite football team, and he is hoping to go to the Super Bowl this season.
There has been a lot of that talk, but most of it has come from those who never step onto a field.
NFL teams are not usually impressed with fairy tales.
The Panthers put up more of a fight than they should have against the Redskins, and now the Lions, Charlie Batch's Lions, have sent these Super Bowl contenders crashing to .500.
Batch had not played in a game since last season, and the Lions did not really do anything all that special to beat the Redskins. The Lions didn't even score a touchdown. Four field goals were enough, although the Lions kicked five to be safe.
That is how it goes in the NFL. You can be a Nobel Prize candidate who acquires some of the nicest talent around and still have days like this one.
Jeff George and Mark Carrier, two of the Boy Owner's high-profile acquisitions in the offseason, did not play.
Brad Johnson, to his credit, is trying to change that for George. Johnson finished with four interceptions, only two of which were his fault. The two were dandies: a pop-up that Kurt Schulz fielded like a punt and the pick by Terry Fair that settled the issue.
Carrier did not make the trip to Windsor's suburb, and given the gloomy weather outside and the gloomy game inside, it probably was a wise decision on the NFL's part.
It is funny how it works.
The Boy Owner made a big media splash with Carrier and George, and also with Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith, and it just was not meant to be for this group in Week 2.
Sanders is supposed to take one side of the field away from opponents. Apparently, the Lions did not add that footnote to their game plan. Batch appeared to go to Sanders' side of the field whenever he felt like it, and with success.
John Jett also punted the ball to Sanders without incident. Near the end, even the crowd seemed to sense that this was not the person whom teams used to fear. Before Jett's last punt, the crowd serenaded Sanders to chants of, "Deion sucks."
Consistent to a fault, Sanders was unable to field the ball in the air, and it rolled to the Redskins 11, 91 yards from the go-ahead score with 1:59 left.
Sanders and Smith accounted for 30 yards in penalties on the Lions' last scoring drive. Sanders was guilty of a face-mask infraction, Smith of roughing the quarterback. The latter was highly questionable.
Smith revealed he learned something new about football.
"He told me I can't leave my feet," Smith said. "I've never heard a rule like that."
It is the can't-leave-your-feet rule. Even the officials can be uncooperative in the NFL.
"Anyone who looked at this game and thought it would be easy doesn't understand what being here in Detroit is," Norv Turner said.
The place can be loud, rude and obnoxious.
After the game, the Boy Owner waited for the elevator that would take him to his team's locker room in the belly of the stadium. He waited as the fans of the home team made their way to the exits with an X-rated analysis of the Redskins. He waited as the Lions coaches were permitted to make the descent first.
The Boy Owner has paid all this money to be 2-0 and instead he is 1-1. He is a good guy, the Desmond Tutu of the communications world who helps little, old ladies cross busy intersections, and yet, in the big, bad, unforgiving NFL, none of it matters on game day. Not the hype, not the money, not little, old ladies.
"Too many turnovers," Tre Johnson said. "We didn't get into a rhythm. We had no momentum, no consistency. We just didn't get it done."
No debating that.

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