There are certain franchises in the NFL that once a new season gets underway, it’s almost guaranteed they are heading to the Playoffs and have a legitimate chance of going all the way to the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens are just a few that come to mind.
In Michigan however, we have the unfortunate honor of being victims more than anything when it comes to our professional football team. It seems like the Detroit Lions are hyped up before just about every season. It’s always something along the lines of, “this is the season that something special happens” or something very similar to that. Though it’s sad, 8-8 is considered a good season in the eyes of many Lions fans. It becomes extremely irritating to hear about all of the good things that are in store for the season, but then disaster happens.
One week the Lions will look like one of the best teams in the NFL, then the following week they will look more like a flag football team. Many greats have donned the Detroit Lions Honolulu Blue and silver uniform. Names like Herman Moore, Lem Barney, Barry Sanders and the recently retired, Calvin Johnson. All five of these guys are legends in Lions’ history, but none of them ever got the chance to be considered a “champion” during their time in Detroit. It’s a shame when you really think about it because the aforementioned players and plenty of others played their positions better than most and all they have to show for their efforts is statistics. Not a single Super Bowl between them. Ok, maybe a few of them got a little taste of the Playoffs, but that taste was soon smacked out of their mouths respectively.
Bobby Layne, in particular, was even quoted after the Lions traded him to the Steelers back in 1958 as saying the Lions would “not win for 50 years.” Layne wasn’t kidding around was he? I know that’s just talk and speculation, but the “Curse of Bobby Layne” is well-known through Michigan and lives within Lions fans everywhere.
Personally, I’ve had the privilege of watching Calvin Johnson since he was in college at Georgia Tech and then through the entirety of his Lions career. I can also remember vividly the tail end of Barry Sanders’ Hall of Fame career. Both will go down not only as Lions greats, but two of the greatest players to ever play professional football at their positions. Sanders would break an opposing defenders ankles with ease when they would try to tackle him. There is plenty of evidence other than my words that can show how gifted Barry was as a running back. Johnson was simply known as “Megatron” and with good reason. At 6-foot-5, he had rare blazing speed for someone of his size. Johnson’s leaping ability was phenomenal and he had the uncanny ability to catch the ball in traffic and also to put his body in the best possible position to make the catch. Over his nine-year career, we were often left wondering how in the world Johnson made some of the catches he made. It’s a travesty that talent like a Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson can’t show off a ring of some type at the professional level because they surely deserve to be champions.
As Lion fans, we continue to pour in money into our football team. It can be anything from buying merchandise or making sure that the annual Thanksgiving game is sold out. We always seem to be hoping that one particular season will finally be the season that something positive finally goes our way. We should be able to talk about a Super Bowl championship, but we can’t do that. The Lions are one of 12 teams to never hoist the Lombardi Trophy. I believe it’s a safe bet to say that Detroit Lions fans have suffered more than any other fan base in the NFL and that they NEED a Super Bowl.
Regardless of what happens, there will always be Lions fans. Even on those Sundays when you feel like burying your head in the sand, you will always come back. You find yourself hitting the guide button on the remote or just hitting the channel up/down button to get away from the misery, but you will be back. I don’t mean to be bashing the Lions, that is not the intent of this, but it’s been countless years of frustration that burns inside of me, it burns inside all of us.
The 2016 NFL Draft is a little over a month away. It’s another chance to build towards the future. Let’s hope that this new front office actually picks someone of need and does not leave us scratching our heads wondering why we just drafted who we drafted.
The future for Lions fans is like a box of chocolates… You never know what you’re gonna get!
I just have one more thing to say and I think all Lions fans can agree with me. If I were to wish for one thing it would be a Super Bowl to talk about. That isn’t asking too much, is it?