Sportress of Blogitude

Lions ‘NFC North 2016 Division Champions’ shirts sold at store (pic)

The Detroit Lions were in the hunt for their first division title in 23 seasons in 2016, but it was not to be. A three-game losing streak to close out the campaign put an end to such hopes as the Lions (9-7) ceded the NFC North in a Week 17 loss to the Green Bay Packers (10-6), who had won six straight to seize yet another division title.

The late-season slide and how the Lions lost the division because of it apparently was lost upon one department store chain … or at the very least one outlet of said chain.

It has been discovered that a T.J. Maxx department store in Chesterfield Township, Mich., about 30 miles outside Detroit, has been selling shirts touting the Lions as “NFC North 2016 Division Champions.” About a half-dozen shirts reportedly were available for purchase.

Uh, oops.

Companies licensed to produce official NFL apparel frequently manufacture apparel and other such merchandise early so it’s ready for sale on time. Such merchandise is typically destroyed or donated and doesn’t become available to consumers for purchase if things don’t go the team’s way.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy indicated in an email to the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett that “non-winning apparel is generally shipped overseas to charitable organizations.”

“A limited number of shirts are printed in advance for a variety of clubs,” McCarthy added in the email. “We’ve been in contact with the manufacturer to ensure these shirts are pulled.”

A T.J. Maxx spokesperson indicated in an email to Birkett that the shirts were put on display by mistake. The Chesterfield Township T.J. Maxx outpost will refund the full price — $4.99 — to any customer who purchased the shirt.

That said, why return it? It’s a pretty cool keepsake … so long as the Lions fan in question can get over the fact it’s been over two decades that the their favorite NFL team could be legitimately hailed as division champions. If not, quite the score, indeed.