Since everyone else who writes about the Lockout league is busy putting together their top ten list of anything that matters to its fan base, I felt it’s time to put down in print my favorite moments in Lions history. Making the list was hard–it was AWFULLY hard to come up with positive moments for a franchise that has only won ONE, count ‘em ONE, playoff game in most of our lifetimes. It’s so easy to come up with a list of the things that went wrong with this franchise that one wonders how this team is able to retain any fans at all!
My guess is that gullible people like myself just love the sport so much that rooting for the home team is as natural as bitching about the local politicians. The love of the sport, I think, comes from the way this sport mimics war more than any other sport on the planet. Kill or be killed. How can you not love that?
I decided to honor the new administration by including only nine of the top moments in Lions history and no, that’s not all I could think of. I firmly believe that this franchise is poised for a run of success that this city hasn’t seen for over fifty years. This rebirth started in 2009 when the Lions brought in Martin Mayhew, who hired Jim Schwartz, who in turn drafted Matthew Stafford, who choose number 9 to wear while resurrecting the Lions to glory. At least one great moment is reserved for what is to come. In the meantime, here are my top nine:
9. Russ Thomas RETIRES
My first recollection of the Lions off the playing field was how much EVERYBODY hated Russ Thomas. It wasn’t that he was so incompetent, he was adequate- It’s that he BARELY cared about the results on the field. He was bent on showing the players who was boss and delivering Mr. Ford a profit.
8. 1983–THE DRIVE
Gary Danielson was coming off five interceptions and the Lions were only down by one point with a minute remaining. Gary looked spectacular in driving the team to the brink of what would be the Lions’ most amazing win in franchise history with perfect passes. He got them to the 26 yard line to set up for a 43- yard game winning field goal when…(positive memory ends here)
7. 1962 THANKSGIVING GAME
The Lions were the only team to beat the Packers that year. They had a pretty good team and pounded Bart Starr into the turf with 11 sacks. If there was a playoff system that year, they would have made it. The Lions had 3 future hall of famers on that team.
6. MNF GAME STARRING Eric Hipple
In the 80’s, the Lions were not a laughing stock, except for the Darryl Rodgers era. The team had Gary Danielson as it’s starter and he couldn’t start, so the Lions put in unknown Eric Hipple. On Oct. 19, 1981, Hipple burned the Bears for four touchdown passes and ran for two others and captured the imagination of all of the football fans in the country.