Detroit Lions: What they (could) mean to me

Joke I grabbed from an ESPN article the other day: What can you get out of a dollar that you can’t get out of the Detroit Lions?

Four Quarters.

History:

  • Last playoff appearance: 1999
  • Last winning season: 2000
  • Overall record since last winning season: 31-95
  • Last NFL Championship: 1957 (final record of 10-4)
  • Number of winning seasons since then: 16 (of 51 seasons)
  • Best single-season record since last championship: 12-4 in 1991. Lost to the Washington Redskins 41-10 in the NFC Championship (also, the last year the Lions won a playoff game)
  • Did not win a road game during the 2001, 2002, and 2003 seasons, the only team to go three consecutive seasons without a road victory.
  • From 2001-2007, had the worst winning percentage among NFL teams during that time (31-81, .227)
  • 1998, Barry Sanders, who was then second in NFL history for most rushing yards in a career (behind Walter Payton, then surpassed by the current leader, Emmitt Smith), retired abruptly after the season. It was later determined he retired because the Lions’ front office lost their will to win.
  • In 2008, the Detroit Lions won all four pre-season games, yet as I write this they have gone through five different starting quarterbacks and they have lost 14 straight games.

As the avid sports enthusiast that I am, I can’t help but follow the Detroit Lions. Say what you wish, I am obligated to support the hometown team, but these days I would prefer to live in Oakland, or Cincinnati; at least their teams haven’t been THIS terrible for THIS long.

Every single year the Lions do something spectacular to get their fans all hopped up on a small hint the organization is taking a step in the right direction. Like clockwork, the fans are let down at some point. Last year, it was the 6-2 start, then finishing 1-7.

This year, it was the 4-0 pre-season record. Although everyone understands that pre-season games don’t mean a thing, it was at least something to fall back on. 2008 Pre-Season Champions aside, they are still 0-14.

Sept. 22, 2008, William Clay Ford, Jr. gave the Lions faithful that ray of hope, announcing that if it were in his power, he would get rid of President and CEO of Football Operations, Matt Millen.

Two days later, Millen no longer held his position. Whether he was forced to resign or was fired isn’t the issue. Lions fans got what they wanted for the last three to four seasons; Millen ousted.

Consider the Lions my guilty pleasure, but I can’t help it that I feel the need to cut my ties with the Ford family franchise, hop on a bandwagon somewhere and forget the past.

But I can’t.

At 23, I think I have endured the brunt of the 51-year downfall that has been the Lions. I was 6 years old the last time they won a playoff game, so it is safe to say I don’t remember that victory.

Lions fans have endured a tremendous amount of stress stemming from, and are beginning to be sickened by, the roller-coaster of emotions the franchise has put them through.

It basically began with, as mentioned before, the abrupt retiring of Barry “Check for your Jock Strap, Mr. Linebacker” Sanders. It moved on to the dozen or so no-name running backs since his departure, the lack of a solid quarterback for many years (though we were given a ray of hope yet again with the acquisition of Dante Cullpepper). We stomached the Matt Millen Era and the countless wide receivers taken in the first round (dare I mention Charles Rogers?).

All of those combined, along with many others, have done nothing but disappoint the fans and lower our approval rating of the franchise.

In 2006, I had reason to get ecstatic when the Detroit Tigers made their wonderful run to the World Series. Then the following year I had the same child-like feeling of excitement in hopes of repeating the success of the previous season.

I was let down.

Nothing beats the intensity of playoff hockey. In the spring months for over the last decade (with the exception of the strike of the 2004-05 season) I have watched the Red Wings and the excitement they bring to the TV.

Those of you who know me well know my general apathy and dislike of basketball, however, I will go watch a game in person. The first-ever Pistons game I went to was during the second round of the 2004 playoffs against the New Jersey Nets, the season which the Pistons would go on to win the NBA Finals against the Lakers.

The three other Pistons games I have been to since then were playoff games. Nothing beats the high energy of playoff competition.

One thing the fans of Detroit, myself included, are missing out on is the introduction and feeling of playoff football in Detroit.

Alright boys, get your heads out of your asses and give the fans something to cheer about.

Give them something to get excited about.

Give them something to care about.

(keep in mind they do pay your salaries)

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