Some people are fans of the Detroit Lions. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Detroit Lions. This 2017 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Detroit Lions. Butthole is always on the menu.
Only NFC team to never go to the Super Bowl, folks.
Your 2016 record: 9-7.
The best part was when they started 9-4 and then EVERYONE looked at the remaining schedule (Giants, Cowboys, Packers) and instinctively knew they were gonna lose out and blow the division to a Packers team that was two games behind with three games left. And so they did. Most predictable Lions thing to ever happen. They also lost to Tennessee in a game where they had three touchdowns called back by penalties. That is the SECOND most predictable Lions thing to ever happen. They played a Wild Card game against Seattle (try to remember a single thing about it) and had to send their QB out onto the field with a dislocated finger. He went 18-32 for 205 yards and 0 TDs and they lost 26-6. Tell me you guys wouldn’t rather smash drives in the Silverdome ruins than watch this team flail around for 16 Sundays a year.
Your coach: Jim Caldwell, whose .563 winning percentage makes him the most successful Lions head coach in modern NFL history. It’s true. Your greatest coach in the Super Bowl era is your uncle who spends all day fishing:
The best part is that virtually every Lions fan will refuse to give Caldwell credit for anything and heap it all upon Jim Bob Cooter instead. One more 9-7 season and they’ll probably build a Cooter statue outside Ford Field.
Your quarterback: Matt Stafford.
By the end of every season, Matt Stafford is playing with half a frontal lobe and two bones sticking out of his finger. And because the NFL is cruel, they play the Packers in Week 17 again! Amazing. That fat bastard will chuck 50 passes that day with a bear trap hanging off his foot.
I’m very excited for a somber profile of Stafford 30 years from now that details his pharmacological regimen and how flash photography gives him day terrors. My Life Is Hell, as told to S.L. Price.
What’s new that sucks: Your uniforms!
I am so, so tired of this. You listen to me, professional sports team brand managers of the world: Unless the colors and/or the logo are new, the uniforms are not. You don’t get to have a Seventh Avenue runway party just because you added piping to the jerseys. See now, this?
Now THAT is a redesign. I swear Kid Rock could win that state’s Senate seat by 20 points.
On the field, the team stole T.J. Lang away from the hated Packers to replace departed guard Larry Warford. By law, any free agent signed from New England, Green Bay, or Pittsburgh will immediately turn to shit playing for any other team. Join us in Week 6 when Lang breaks both ankles in a golf cart mishap. Bob Quinn also shrewdly acquired a bunch of other teams’ draft busts, including tackle Greg Robinson (to replace the injured Taylor Decker, whom they really needed), along with cornerback D.J. Hayden, who needs an Iron Man’s arc reactor implanted in his chest just to keep from dropping dead on the field.
What has always sucked: You already know by now. Detroit is the place where legends retire quietly and without warning. And it’s only after the appropriate amount of time has passed that the obvious comes to light:
“I didn’t see a chance for them to win a Super Bowl at the time,” Johnson said.“For the work I was putting in, it wasn’t worth my time, to keep on beating my head up against the wall, and not go anywhere… It’s the definition of insanity… That’s everybody’s goal, when they come to the league, is to win a Super Bowl. That’s the ultimate goal. … I wanted to win it, and like I said, I just didn’t see that opportunity with the Lions.”
Keep in mind that the Lions went to the playoffs in 2011, 2014, and last year. I know that’s not much, but that 2011 season was the first time the Lions had won 10 or more games in 15 years. This Caldwell era represents the most successful run of Lions football this century, which is just… God, that’s so sad. Megatron knew it was all a ruse anyway. Even with Stafford aboard—by no means the greatest QB ever, but an astronomical upgrade over the parade of cave-dwellers this team started during the 1990s—Megatron was like, “This is fucking hopeless.” Even when the Lions are good, they’re still lightyears away from being good enough. None of the other teams in their division consider them a rival because they mostly just feel bad for them. Their ceiling will forever be a wild-card road game that will end in a blowout. You need to be 95 years old to have any good memories of this organization.
“I just didn’t feel like I was treated the way I should have been treated on the way out.”
For real, how does this team to manage to alienate its two greatest players? The Ford family must be about as charming as a bag of brown recluse spiders. What a goddamn disaster.
As for you, Michigan, you are a national disgrace. Your governor is still dumping urea into the Flint water supply and belongs in supermax prison. Your legacy of white musicians is downright criminal. Your chili dogs make Skyline look like Eleven Madison Park. Somehow the most prominent sports owner in Detroit is the moron who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers. The state is eternally terrified of Mexicans taking jobs that already vanished 40 years ago. Michigan is a hollowed-out ore mine.
Did you know? Buzz Lightyear has questions.
What might not suck: Zach Zenner is wayyyy better at not-football stuff than football. Amazing. You guys went through the whole alphabet of running backs (from Ameer Abdullah to Zach Zenner) and none were good.
HEAR IT FROM LIONS FANS!
I am not old enough to remember a single playoff victory.
Fuck this team.
We once lost a game because our defensive tackle missed the game-tying extra point. Jesus, I can’t believe that’s a true sentence.
Between Calvin Johnson and Barry Sanders, our best player was Jason Hanson. He was a kicker.
Why would a team based in the Midwest choose Honolulu Blue as a primary team color? Why?
Catch me drowning my sorrows in hard vodka by 1:23 pm most Sundays this season.
The transmission for my 2014 Ford Focus, along with transmissions for all Focus models from 2012-2016 were recalled last year. Yes, five years worth of automatic transmissions—a technology that’s been around for more than a century—had to be recalled. So is anyone surprised the Ford family doesn’t know how the hell to run a football team?
There have been only two stretches in the Super Bowl era when they’ve had consecutive winning seasons.
The bar has been set so low for this franchise that last season they honored the 1991 squad, who won a playoff game before getting hit over the head with a shovel in the NFC championship game, with a ceremony and a fucking banner.
Their best defensive player (and probably best human being), who had struggled with injury for two seasons, was cleared by the team’s doctors the day before he was cut just so they could fuck him out of some guaranteed money. It doesn’t take an orthopedic surgeon to guess that he probably wasn’t healthy enough to play when those same doctors cleared him a couple months after his surgery, just in time to be a non-factor during the team’s usual late-season meltdown, and it doesn’t take a Belichick scion to guess what the management had in mind at that time.
You know what else is a family-owned franchise? North Korea.
The Lions have ruined two of the greatest offensive players in the history of the game to the point where they’d rather not play than continue to lose. They then managed to ask for their money back.
Following the Lions allows you to understand your place in the universe. You are irrelevant. The management doesn’t care what you think and the team will never matter to the league. 51 years on this earth and one playoff win that lead to one of the biggest blowouts in NFC championship history.
Fun Fact: Stafford is 5-46 against winning teams. [Ed note: Holy crap.]
There are only two types of Lions fans. The type who absolutely know the Lions are destined to be the 2nd worst bunch of fuck ups in the league for eternity (sorry, Cleveland). The other type of Lions fans are the eternally delusional optimistic type. These people should be shot.
The team has never been to the Super Bowl. Once more, the closest the team ever got was losing by more than four touchdowns during the 1991 season. Matthew Stafford’s wife tried to make money selling tickets to a Lions’ game on Instagram, and when she was called out for it, she deleted the post. The Lions called the Allen Park Police Department on a local blogger who wanted to photoshop a picture of William Clay Ford in a coffin.
I REALLY DIDNT WATCH THEM LAST YEAR AND IT WAS A GLORIOUS AUTUMN AS A RESULT BUT IF YOU WANNA INCLUDE AN ENTRY FROM ME POST THIS:
GODDAMN IT DREW I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR I AM DONE WITH THOSE ASSHOLES AND I MEANT IT.
(gravely) DONT TALK ABOUT THEM IN FRONT OF ME AGAIN.
Our most famous fan is a guy on the internet whose caps lock key fell off.
In 30-40 years when you and I are both dead (probably both of heart attacks due to the way we eat) and one of your kids has taken on the tradition of Why Your Team Sucks, one of my kids will write them an email (or send a transmission through their WiFi enabled brain chip, whatever the technology is by then) telling them how their entire football lives have been filled with misery due to the curse of the Ford Family Ownership, the Lions still never winning a Super Bowl, a dozen or so last minute heartbreaking losses to the fucking Packers, and at least one or 2 more humble and amazing Hall Of Fame talent players abruptly quitting football with gas still left in the tank.
The transmission will also include a big Fuck you to me for making them fans (which I deserve) and end on a Fuck the Lions.
In 1982 I was I a 12-year-old kid living an idyllic life outside of Detroit just a few miles from the Pontiac Silverdome. That year, my parents decided to unroot me from my childhood and move me to the East Coast. They put their house on the distressed market and it sat for about six months. Then one day a buyer shows up: Eric Hipple.
Now, keep in mind, this was the year of the strike, we were in Detroit, and he was Eric Hipple. He wasn’t rich and this was not a mansion. This was an ordinary suburban house on a cul-de-sac. Eric Hipple drove a sex van that couldn’t get in the garage (almost a deal-breaker) and was even acting as his own broker.
So, naturally, Eric Hipple lowballs my parents. And he says something to the effect of “…but you’ll always be able to tell people you sold your house to an NFL quarterback.” To which my Dad replies, “Or I could tell people that an NFL quarterback couldn’t afford to buy my house.”
BOOM! My Dad gets off an actual zinger for the first and last time in his life! Eric Hipple buys the house, we move, and I get to go to some snotty town in Connecticut to try to make friends as I am literally starting puberty. I left Detroit on a Monday as a 98-lb kid and by the time we hit I-95 on Wednesday, I was a 160-lb zit with a permanent erection. It was awkward.
But I had my story, right? Eric Fucking Hipple is living in my house! I was going to be soooooo cool. I get there, and I tell my story, certain that everyone would basically want to be my friend. Instead, one after another, every kid had the same reaction.
“So? Detroit Sucks.”
I didn’t have any friends until high school.
I used to believe that I was an intelligent and reasonable human being. The Lions Chiefs London game in 2015 showed who I truly am. My English in laws were asking why the Chief’s QB was running for so many TDs. Shouldn’t the other players on the Lions be faster?
I sincerely replied, “Well, Alex Smith was pretty athletic in college ... “
At that moment, I realized I was trying to defend a 1-6 football team who had only won a single playoff game in my father’s lifetime. I was trying to say that Alex Smith was a sneaky athletic guy back in college when he was already a 10-year-veteran in the league.
Jim Caldwell looks like my bulldog, Duke.
Back in 2000, all the Lions had to do in order to win the Central Divison was to beat a shit Bears team at home. There’s no way they were losing that game. I even told my Packers fan coworker if they lost I’d never cheer for the Lions again. I was at my parents’ house for Christmas and they did not have a TV at the time, so, I took my 14-year-old brother to the closest bar to watch, and had to bribe the bouncer let him in. The Bears are stopped on the Lions 36 and yet Bears kicker Paul Edinger, who played across the street at Michigan State, fucking drills it at the gun. The place goes completely silent and my brother says to me “this is why I can’t be a Lions fan,” loud enough that a ton of people here it. They start coming up to him saying “you’re a smart kid” and the like. To this day he isn’t an NFL fan.
Did I follow through on my statement to my coworker? Hell no, and I still subject myself to the humiliation that is being a Lions fan, even when bartenders laugh and ask “No really, what game do you want to watch?” when I ask for Lions games, and even when the worker at the Jameson Distillery mocked my wife and me for admitting we were Lions fans (at least we got two free drinks out of it), which happened right after the 0-16 season. Even people in Ireland know they’re a shit franchise.
A friend of mine is a complete and total whore for anything Lions.
1.) He once bought a James Stewart jersey. After Kevin Jones was drafted, he took a piece of paper, wrote the word “Jones” and safety pinned it to the back of his Jersey once Stewart was released. His reasoning was that since Kevin Jones would “Be around for a long time” it was cheaper to do that than purchase a whole new jersey of a different player.
2.) He freaked out one time when he saw former Lions second string linebacker Teddy Lehman at a Tigers game.
3.) Tried to me convince that Mike McMahon would be a better QB than Joey Harrington.
4.) Once claimed that we should trade Stafford for Jay Cutler because Cutler was a winner. Also said the same of Mark Sanchez pre-Butt fumble
5.) Still alludes to the “Curse of Bobby Layne” when nothing goes the Lions way, even though it does not exist and was made up by a blogger.
That’s how pathetic this franchise is: we have to make up fake curses to justify our losing instead of accepting the fact that the reason we suck is due to the ineptitude of the Ford Family and the fact that our fans are the biggest suckers this side of Trump Voters who think he’s gonna bring their coal-mining jobs back.
I am British. I support the Detroit Lions out of choice, when I could support any other team. I have no familial ties to Detroit and have never been there. When confronted with this fact people react either as if I have suffered some kind of traumatic brain injury, or am trying to erase my sins via some kind of bizarre self-flagellation.
When my dad was a kid, they had the Sunday tradition of watching the Lions and then going out to eat at Mr. Hotdog. During the 1970 season, my dad was drinking the Lions Kool-Aid. They were good and eventually made the playoffs as a Wild Card team, but the game against the New Orleans Saints was a gut punch. He was dancing around the house thinking the Lions were going to pull one out against a terrible Saints team until Tom Dempsey and his half of a foot hit a 63-yard field goal as time expired to take the wind right out of his sails. He was so distraught he couldn’t eat Mr. Hotdog that day. The Lions and their ineptitude deprived my father of one of his favorite meals.
The Lions last championship was in 1957. The Eagles have a more recent championship! Eisenhower was still in his first term as U.S. President. Alaska and Hawaii weren’t even states yet. Here’s a fun game: if you ever want to know how long the Lions’ championship drought is, take the current Super Bowl number and then add nine to it.
Lest you think on field disappointment is the only thing this franchise brings you, there is probably no other team that has had as much personal tragedy as the Lions. Here are some of the more notable occurrences that demonstrate the black cloud that hangs over this team’s head:
Chuck Hughes: The only NFL player ever to DIE on the field during a game. He suffered a fatal heart attack during the final minutes of a game against the Bears in 1971. He had run a pass route but was not part of the play. He was jogging back to the huddle when he collapsed on the field. His autopsy revealed that his coronary arteries were 75% blocked and that he was killed by a blood clot that completely cut the circulation to his heart.
Don McCafferty - Two years removed from winning Super Bowl V as the Colts head coach, he was hired by the Lions. After his first season, he suffered a heart attack while cutting his lawn and died on the way to the hospital.
Reggie Rogers: Broke his neck in a 1988 auto crash while drunk and was charged with negligent homicide due to three teens dying in the accident.
Mike Utley: Paralyzed from the waist down in a 1991 game against the Rams. In very unLion-like fashion, team used this as a rallying point and won 12 games that season and a playoff game.
Eric Andolsek: In 1992, at the age of 25 was killed in his front yard while gardening by a tractor trailer that ran off the road. This is a death that would’ve been deemed too unrealistic by the directors of the Final Destination films.
Reggie Brown: In a 1997 game against the Jets suffered a spinal cord contusion while assisting on a tackle. He lay motionless for 17 minutes on the turf at the Pontiac Silverdome, briefly losing consciousness. CPR saved his life, and emergency surgery saved him from using a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Corey Smith: In 2009, the defensive lineman was one of four men on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico that capsized. Only one man survived, Smith was never found.
Your move, rest of the NFL.
Our quarterback, whom we are about to make the highest paid player in the history of the sport, has a 5-46 record against winning teams for his career. He is by far the best player on our roster.
This shit right here. My personal Hell is Steve Mariucci staring wistfully into the distance while Paul Allen brays in the background.
This video clip is the Detroit Lions’ fandom microcosm. Eighteen seconds that define everything loving this dopey little franchise is all about. Brief moments of joy and optimism crushed violently by a silver and Honolulu Blue clown hammer.
I remember this game so well. I used to seek out Lions games on the radio because Mark Champion was (and still is) an ace play-by-play man. Those NFL Films highlights of Barry Sanders making defenders look foolish? That’s Mark Champion’s voice over the top of them.
The best thing about Mark was he would match the mood of Lions fans perfectly. He would always stay professional, never over-the-top homer-y, but man...you could tell he was living and dying by what was happening out there.
His call of the Muhlbach disaster was devastating. I tried to find it, to no avail. It haunts me. To have defeat and a possible post-season berth snatched away so ridiculously...it defied explanation, and somehow Mark was still able to explain it to the listener while no doubt fighting off the urge to swallow his own tongue.
It turns out, that was Mark Champion’s last game. He got shit-canned in the off-season so Matt Millen could bring in one of his buddies, Dan Miller, who’s fine, but he’s not Mark. Dan Miller still calls Lions games and Mark Champion has moved on to the Pistons, where he gets to be the voice of another perennial disappointment. That’s Lions fandom in a nutshell, just a Moebius strip of mediocrity sprinkled with fleeting, brilliant disasters.
The most interesting thing about forcing myself to watch these games every year is figuring out what way they screw up getting a top three draft pick. Look at that schedule! Who else is ready for the 1-7 start followed by a 6-2 finish that keeps everyone employed? Oh, and these idiots get THREE Sunday or Monday night games in the first nine weeks. Sorry, America.
The first writer to write the annual “Matt Stafford Is Actually Really Good” column should be sent to the Gulag.
I wish Jim Caldwell would show actual emotion and not look like he’s trying to figure out what kind of sandwich he wants to make at Subway all the time. Our only Pro Bowler last year was our kicker, Matt Prater, and he probably spent most of his time in practice sitting in a running shower, drinking a six-pack of Strohs and humming “The Sound of Silence.”
I can comfortably say with absolute and utter certainty that last year’s Lions team was the most grossly unqualified playoff team of all time. If there was any justice in the world, we would have been 2-14 and we would have purged our coaching staff like laxatives purging a stoned teenager of the 15 Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme he just ingested. But no! Somehow, we managed to pull off comeback wins against such brutal competition as the Jaguars, Vikings, and Rams. None of whom made the playoffs.
However, like a naïve lamb being led to the slaughter, I bought into the hype. And what happened? The Cowboys and Giants, two decent football teams, totally shat on us without even breaking a sweat. Dez Bryant threw a goddamn touchdown pass against us on national television. Odell Beckham Jr decided to beat us with one hand tied behind his back, just because he knew he could.
But no matter! Week 17 is here, the division is on the line, and we’re playing Peter King’s favorite wholesome, family-values team that God wills into the NFC championship every single year: the Green Bay Packers. I go all in and decide to buy tickets for the primetime showdown in Detroit with my family (Lions fans) and my roommate (a Packers fan).
What happens? Aaron Rodgers rolls through our secondary like Genghis Khan pillaging a small town of chaste monks. The worst part? I live in Wisconsin with the rest of those dipshit, sheltered, possibly inbred Green Bay Packers fans, and I had to work the next day. Life is pain and I know this next season will just be another exercise in futility as Aaron Rodgers takes a crap on us in his sleep. Can’t wait for week one.
In the 53 seasons since Ford bought the Lions in 1963, they’ve been over .500 only 16 times, have won just a single playoff game, and seen two of the greatest players at their position in NFL history retire in their primes. To cap it all off, the Fords won’t sell the team until Martha dies because of the capital gains and estate taxes. Fuck me sideways with a lunchbox. Then time travel and fuck William Clay Ford with the same lunchbox.
Bob Quinn has already instilled The Patriot Way in Detroit by alienating one of the best players in franchise history.
My best friend has never lived outside of Michigan, and has remained a stalwart fan, and gets wound up for the divisional rivalry games. He said he hated the Packers, and I told him there’s no point. It’s wasted energy. They don’t hate us, they don’t really even think of us. He responded with a “Uh, okay.” And quickly changed the subject. We don’t really talk about football as much anymore.
Every year I say I’m not going to watch the fucking Lions and every year I watch the fucking Lions. I don’t merely dislike them, I actively fucking hate them. I actively hate my father and my father’s father for raising me as a Lions fan. I’m pushing 40 and will never, EVER see this fucking piece of shit team do anything worth watching in the post season.
In the 50+ Years of the Super Bowl Era, the following Quarterbacks have more playoff wins than the entire Detroit Lions Franchise:
I didn’t watch the Playoff game because I knew they would lose. I made my girlfriend go to a shitty minor league hockey game, because I didn’t want to watch it for 3.5 hours, turning into a worse and worse person with each thing the Lions fucked up. I got home from the game, saw they lost, grabbed every piece of Lions merchandise I owned, three it in a garbage bag, and threw it as far back into our storage closet as I could. Hopefully I never have to dig it out ever again.
Every year I pick the team to go 5-11, and yet somehow I always end up disappointed. Fuck this team, and fuck me for still caring about them. The only saving grace is that I moved away from Michigan, and now instead of watching these assholes every Sunday and being mad the whole game, I only get mad for 5 minutes when I get the text alert that they lost.
I went into the playoff game against Seattle with hope for some reason. I live in Seattle now. I went to a Lions friendly bar and became so depressed by the utter inanity of it all that by the third quarter I got beyond blackout drunk and went to a ‘cocktail lounge’ with my all black Megatron jersey on and blew $70 on whiskey I couldn’t afford and I don’t remember drinking.
I, a 40 year old man, woke up on my bathroom floor with no pants on at 3:00AM. It was my moment of clarity. No, not about drinking. About being a fan of any team that would employ Jim Bob Cooter as an offensive coordinator.
The only thing worse than being a devoted fan of a perennially-shitty-except-when-they’re-sometimes-good-but-never-good-enough team is being a devoted fan of a PSEWTSGBNGE team that perpetually alienates the only good players they’ve ever had. Seriously? You’re going to make Calvin Johnson repay his bonus money? After he A) was the only thing making you consistently watchable and B) was the only thing making you relevant outside the Midwest? So you can go spend that million on yet-another retread, former-Patriot injury risk? For fuck’s sake. Give that man his money. I trust him with it more than you.
I’d write more, but this is legitimately making me sad.
One playoff win in 50 years. Also fuck the old man forever for letting Millen ruin eight goddamn years.
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