News flash for anyone that is just now watching football for the first time in 2023. Injuries happen in the NFL. A lot. Contract disputes between a top player and a franchise are also commonplace.
However, if you’re Mike Tirico, someone who has been calling games for more than two decades, apparently you need to be reminded of this phenomenon.
After the Detroit Lions had just gone into Arrowhead and taken down the defending world champions in the Kansas City Chiefs, Tirico felt it was important to remind viewers that the Chiefs were without two of their best players—tight end Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones.
“We saw the Chiefs go into Foxborough in 2016 (editor’s note: it was 2017) and win on Opening Night, and that announced to everyone that the Kansas City Chiefs were going to be a factor,” Tirico said during the NBC broadcast on Thursday night. “This has an asterisk because of no Chris Jones and no Travis Kelce, but after what you saw at the end of last year and what you saw tonight, the team in blue and silver is for real.”
And to be fair to Tirico, a lot of the clips floating around social media are edited so that they only feature the comment about the asterisk, and without the context surrounding that quote. He does literally finish the sentence people are quoting with “the team in blue and silver is for real.”
Tirico defended his comments in a chat with the Detroit News, pointing out that most fans missed this entire context, and all the other positive things he said during the game broadcast.
“Could I have worded that slightly differently? Sure. ... If you choose to ignore 3 hours and 15 minutes of other positive comments, if that’s the way you live your life, so be it.”
Still, I can see why Lions fans are a bit bothered.
After all, going into the most difficult place to play in the NFL and knocking off the best football player on the planet, should not be glossed over. Kelce and Jones aside, the Lions’ 21-20 victory over the Chiefs was big time.
Take it from George Foster, a former NFL offensive lineman.
Yeah that’s wack. No matter how much football you cover, watch, study, love, you can’t imagine what it feels like, to duke it out in front of 70-80k, with all eyes on you. Every mistake, every injury, every lost rep, everything. Ain’t no asterisk. Those guys earned that win. https://t.co/d5IRbpvhhs— FOST (@GeorgeFoster72) September 8, 2023
Or from another former player and current ESPN analyst Marcus Spears.
Or even from the great Rich Eisen, who is a friend of Tirico’s.
“I know my buddy Mike Tirico said that the win had an asterisk on it because Chris Jones had held out—despite still showing up to the game as an attendee, and Travis Kelce was hurt,” said Eisen on The Rich Eisen Show. “100%. But in the National Football League, you can only control what you can control. And the opposite for the Detroit Lions would have been to lose the game. Normally the Lions would lose a game like this, instead of coming out with the win like they did. And they cannot do anything but play the guys in front of them.”
At the end of the day, Tirico didn’t say anything that discounted the Lions’ Week 1 victory. One could argue that he was just stating the facts about two All-Pros not being in uniform for the Chiefs, and his comments about the Lions being “for real” should overshadow the asterisk comment.
But in the moment, it is tough to fault Lions’ fans for being bothered by the comments. This was a massive game for the franchise, and beating Patrick Mahomes in any capacity is reason to celebrate. There is a reason the man is considered the Michael Jordan of the sport.
So for now, continue to enjoy this moment, Lions fans. Maybe we should all strive to be a bit more like Lions’ coach Dan Campbell when it comes to things like this.
Dan Campbell on Mike Tirico's comments:— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) September 8, 2023
"Well is there an asterisk by the 1-0?"