As an avid fan of the team that plays across the street from the Lions, I’ve felt my share of frustration with Brandon Inge this season. He is an interesting case – a player that has spent a decade in Detroit despite never being regarded as one of the team’s best players.
Inge has always been a polarizing figure but until this year, his supporters always seemed louder than his detractors. Yesterday’s trade for Wilson Betemit might be the de facto end of Inge’s tenure in Detroit and it got me thinking, who is the “Brandon Inge” of the Detroit Lions?
One of the first names to come to mind is Jeff Backus. He has the tenure to rival Inge’s and there are definitely the group of fans that call for Backus to be replaced immediately while another group decries such talk as foolishness. The connections diverge when it comes to the way the two players are regarded. Backus has been under-appreciated while Brandon Inge has been largely over-rated throughout his Tigers career.
While Backus might be a fit in some areas, I would say the player that most resembles the Lions version of Brandon Inge is Dominic Raiola. He is a long-tenured Lion that sparks fervent debate. No one will mistake Raiola for one of the best at his position over the course of his career but he has been useful enough to last as long as he has – a lot like Inge. Both players have shortcomings that are forgiven for strengths in other areas. Inge has always been a light hitter but had the glove to keep his job. Raiola struggles against the bull rush but is known as one of the best call-making centers in the league.
The main problem with making the Inge connection with either player is that they have never gained a fan-favorite following. The rate of roster turnover in the NFL makes this a more difficult task than it might otherwise be. For that reason, I’m not sure I can come up with any other names that have has many parallels. What do you think?