Detroit Lions History 101: Rookie Edition
Earlier this week, newly minted Detroit Lions rookies received a crash course in Detroit Lions history.
According to MLive, it was all positive history. But that’s ‘s just not the reality for supporters of the Honolulu blue and especially these rookies.
Here are some lessons in Detroit Lions history that must be taught to these rookies.
Detroit’s 0-16 season is probably the lowest of the lows when it comes to its history. It looked like a promising year as head coach Rod Marinelli was coming off a 7-9 season a year before. I can’t forget that the Lions dominated the preseason with a 4-0 record, but slow down hoss, there are real games to be played. I give Detroit credit for showing up but the team would go on to lose EVERY game of the season. One play that is often associated with that dreadful season was Dan Orlovsky’s safety against the Minnesota Vikings when he unwittingly scored two points against his own team by running out of his own end zone. Not to mention that Detroit went through all four of its quarterbacks throughout the season. Detroit is the first and only team to go 0-16 in NFL history. This feat alone will keep the losing stigma attached to this team until they win a super bowl.
The first step to a Super Bowl is making the playoffs and Detroit has squirmed its way into the wild card round seven times since its last playoff win. This is weird writing about since it happened nearly a year before I was born. January 5th, 1992 was Detroit's last taste of playoff victory and a step closer to gridiron glory. The Lions beat down America’s team 38-6 at the Pontiac Silverdome. I’ll give you extra credit if you know who started at quarterback for Detroit.
Leave it to the Lions to have the two best players at their position in the franchise (and maybe league) history to retire prematurely. Barry Sanders was one of the most electrifying players to ever carry the ball averaging nearly 1,500 yards per season. We all know if he played longer he would have been the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Sanders was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004 after a stellar 10-year career and attributed his abrupt retirement to Detroit’s losing culture.
Twelve years after Sanders donned the gold jacket, Calvin Johnson retired after a nine-year career with the Lions. Johnson’s name is attached to most of the franchise’s receiving records and he set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards in a season. Not only was he the only wide receiver that commanded triple coverage (ask Cincinnati) but he will also go down as the best red-zone/deep threat in NFL history. During his tenure in Detroit his body was beaten up and he played through a lot of pain, which was his main motive for retiring. Did I forget to mention that Megatron is one of the coolest nicknames ever?
Tip: If you start putting up consistent All-Pro numbers past your seventh year in Detroit then get the hell out of town!
September 12, 2010, a day that will live in infamy for the Honolulu Blue. Trailing the Chicago Bears 19-14 late in the game, Shaun Hill threw a 25-yard pass to Calvin Johnson in the end zone and a touchdown was signaled. Game over. But after further review he did not “complete the process of a catch” -- that statement alone has been interpreted in more different ways than some Bible verses. Detroit loses and started its season on a bad note and the NFL still doesn’t know what a catch is to this day. This curse has spread to the rest of the league when Tyler Eifert was robbed by the Calvin Johnson rule.
Success as a franchise is determined by championships and it has now been almost 58 years since Motown’s last championship in football. Look at all that has changed in the world like the addition of the Internet, Prozac, LGBT rights, and an African-American president. The NFL always gets back to the idea of “what have you done for me lately?” and the Detroit Lions organization can follow that up with a nice head scratch. Thanks to the Red Wings, Tigers and Pistons; the Lions don’t have all of the pressure to keep Detroit a relevant sports city.
Congrats rookie class of 2016, you’re the next hope to bring greatness to the team, your name, restore the roar and all that jazz. I leave you with one more lesson and that is be thankful the Cleveland Browns didn’t draft you. Class dismissed.