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Bad day blues

Updated: Mar 4

Lessons from Everyday Life By Theodore Lewis

Bridgman, MI--I thought Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, was going to be the culmination of a decades-long dream of seeing my beloved Detroit Lions make it to the Super Bowl.


With an upsurging 2023 season of success and a 12-5 record in the regular season, they beat the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card weekend on Jan. 14. Then the next week, they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to advance to the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 28.


The winner of the Detroit/San Francisco game would represent the NFC in Super Bowl LVIII scheduled to be held on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.


The Sunday NFC championship kickoff was at 6:30 p.m. After an unbelievable first half of dominating the 49ers, Detroit led 24-7 at half time and it seemed as if the remaining 30 minutes of football would just be perfunctory. I began packing my bags for Vegas.


Then, in the third quarter, there was the inexplicable maculate reception that started the whole collapse.


Defending a long 50-yard 49ers pass, the Lion defender was in perfect position to intercept the pass that would give Detroit the opportunity to foil San Fransico's attempt to get back in the game.


As if guided by an unearthly force, the ball bounced off the face mask of the Lion defender who was ready to intercept, went several feet up in the air, and landed softly in the hands of the 49ers receiver who was falling to the ground.


This improbable trajectory of a football, which could not be replicated in a thousand attempts, turned a probable Detroit interception (which would have helped seal Detroit's victory) into a miraculous San Franciso catch facilitating a momentum switch and a touchdown. 


Then, Detroit coughed up a fumble, dropped a pass, and along with a couple of fourth-down failures, suddenly, the game was lost. The border of the promised land was within sight but could not be crossed.

That Sunday evening, I wanted to deny what I'd seen. Then I got angry and depressed. So near, yet so far.  


Now, as I reflect on what a bad day it was for me, I think back to a couple of other bad days in my life.


My first day of work at Riverside Medical in Louisiana was the first hospital CEO appointment of my healthcare career.


The day had started with a euphoric feeling as my personal talents were meshing up perfectly with the community and staff needs of this small rural hospital in Washington Parish, Louisiana.


After meeting with my secretary and other staff members and doing a walk through the hospital, I returned to my new office at about 10 a.m. As I walked into the office, I was met by the local sheriff who served papers on me notifying me of my wife's action of filing for divorce.


Traveling back home after work, I found myself locked out of the house as the garage door opener and door locks had been changed.


After climbing through a window and retrieving some of my clothes and personal belongings, I checked into a motel and stressed out over how crushing and humiliating that terrible day had been.


Thinking back on it now, I can chuckle. But on that very bad day, I could not see that while it was a difficult time in my life, God had better plans for me, and at the end of the day I would be better off.


Another bad day for me occurred in 2005 when I was CEO of Parkview Hospital in Brunswick, Maine. My team of clinicians and staff members had been improving the hospital to the chagrin of the much larger competing hospital in town that had us in the crosshairs of their weapons of misinformation and slander as part of their master plan to put us out of business.


The competing hospital was intertwined with the ownership of the town's local paper, The Times Record. When it came to local hospital news, the paper became the competitor’s public relations tool. Coverage was notoriously one-sided, blowing out of proportion any negative news about Parkview they could find, and ignoring or minimizing any positive stories related to Parkview.


In June 2005, The Times Record contacted me about a midyear budget reduction (5.5 full-time equivalents out of 300 plus) our hospital had just implemented due to the impact of the State of Maine's Medicaid program, which was more than a year delinquent in paying Parkview Medicaid bills.


The next day after the interview, the newspaper published a front-page story with a headline in all-caps: "CASH FLOW WOES." This headline seemed to me about the size of a Kennedy assassination headline. In addition to the headline, the entire top of the front page was devoted to a slanted and very negative story. On the top half of the page, it had a color picture of me laughing, which had been taken at an unrelated social event.


That evening felt like one of the worst days of my life. However, the extremely partisan nature of the article backfired on the perpetrators. Many influential people in the area saw the article for what it was and as a result, began joining the support of Parkview, increasing my stature in the community.


Over the years I've come to realize that there will always be some bad days with frustration, anger, and sadness. However, those days are not the end of the story, only the end of a chapter.


As in life, bad days can occur in the game of football but are not constant. 


For my Detroit Lions and me, The Dream is still alive!

Theodore Lewis is the former CEO of Guam Memorial Hospital and has a healthcare consulting business in Bridgman, MI. He is collecting stories about lessons learned in life and can be reached at




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