I turned 58 this week. So I took some time to reflect on those many, many years.
Less than a year before I was born, the Detroit Lions won the NFL Championship. Since then, the Lions have won ONE (1) playoff game. That’s right, one playoff win in 58 years. In 1991 they rode the emotional energy from a player injury to a division championship and a thrilling 38-6 win over Dallas to get into the NFC championship. Which they lost 41-10!
In the other 57 years, the Lions are 0-10 in the playoffs. As a matter of fact, that 1993 division championship was their last Division title. To put that in perspective, the other 15 teams in the Lions’ conference (the NFC) have ALL won THREE (3) division titles since then. That’s a lot of Lions fan frustration!
So, why am I a Lions fan? Unfortunately, that is also age related. When I grew up there was no Sunday Ticket, no cable, no Sunday Night Football, no Thursday Night Football, there wasn’t even Monday Night Football. There was a game on at 1pm Sunday and another at 4pm. Since I grew up outside the NFL “Blackout Zone” (areas close to the team stadiums) we got to watch the Lions every week as part of a regional telecast. This was a great way for the NFL to build fan interest for teams close to you. However, no one took into account the fact that I got stuck with the Lions.
When I went to college in Ann Arbor, most of my friends were from the Detroit area and were, of course, Lions fans. I would go with them to Lions games, even taking part in the tradition of Lions home football on Thanksgiving Day several times. One Monday night a car load of us drove to my house, 2 hours away, to watch the Lions since the NFL “Blackout Zone” included Ann Arbor.
Once I left school, I was hooked. A step-son who is a Bears fan and a son who is a Packers fan could not sway me. I have spent many Sunday afternoons cheering and crying with my Lions. I have watched Barry Sanders, one of the greatest running backs of all time. As good as he was, he could only help the Lions to that one playoff win. Calvin Johnson (a certain hall of famer) was a beast at wide receiver, yet he never played on a team that won a playoff game or a division title. Charlie Sanders and Lem Barney are Hall of Fame favorites who could not carry the Lions over the hump.
Unfortunately, you get used to this as a Lions fan. This year we got to 9-4 after winning 8 out of 9 and coming from behind to win 7 of them. At that point the Lions had a 2 game lead on the entire division with 3 games to play. My thoughts: “I wonder how we are going to blow it this time.” And here we are! We need to beat our biggest nemesis, the Green Bay Packers, in order to get our first Division Title in 23 years. The Green Bay Packers are 39-16 against us since 1990. (My son was born in 1990. If you wondered why he was a Packer fan: he’s smart!)
So I will be watching and cheering for my Lions this weekend. But as a too often burned fan, I am placing most of my hopes on The Giants beating the Redskins. This will allow the Lions to reach the playoffs without having to win. Seems appropriate.
Faithfully frustrated fan,