We are now in the NFL dead zone. The NFL offseason is between the end of the playing season and the Combine, which starts this week. The franchise tags can start today, but free agents are still a ways away. The draft craziness will start at the beginning of March when the NFL prospects are done being measured and tested, and who looks the best in shorts and tight tee’s in Indianapolis.
Being Presidents day, I thought it would be a good time to see who’s face would rest on the top of the Detroit Lions Mt. Rushmore. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Lions have the players or the history to fill the four slots at the top of the mountain. The Detroit Lions sad history is reflected in the lack of candidates for the honor. Some teams, like the Steelers, Cowboys, and Packers, probably need to rent half of the Colorado Rockies to find the space for all of their heroes from the past. Sorry to say, but the Lions are with the Jaguars, Panthers and Buccaneers of the NFL in looking for men that had great careers while wearing their uniforms.
I think it’s pretty obvious WHO belongs up in the rarified air. Bobby Layne has been the standard for the Lions for over 50 years. He was the greatest clutch player the NFL ever saw. He practically invented the 2 minute drill. His legendary swashbuckling ways are mentioned throughout the NFL history books and he was a part of 3 NFL Championships. Barry Sanders is the only other lock to have his face in stone. Sanders was the greatest Running back in the history of the NFL for a lot of fans. While the Lions once reached the NFC Championship game during his watch, they don’t have much else to show for having a once in a lifetime talent on their team. Barry had his detractors, but for a lot of loyal Lion fans he was the ONLY source of pride for at least two decades.
Unless I’m missing the obvious, I don’t think their are any more Lions worth selecting for the honor. I know Dutch Clark was great back when dirt was invented but If he wasn’t on TV back in the 30’s, did he really exist? I’d bet that if you’d ask most of the Lion faithful who he was they would say some singer from the 60’s. As much as I love Chris Speilman, he doesn’t quite reach the standard of greatness required. Neither do the Joe Schidmt’s, Alex Karras’s or Charlie Sanders’ s. They were great guys, but we’re talking the best of the best.
The best part of this story is that the Lions have a bunch of candidates that might someday be worthy of that honor on the roster right NOW. The Detroit Lions are building something special right before our eyes and have some players that could very well end up with their likeness on the Detroit Lions version of Mt. Rushmore. The fact that Matthew Stafford at 23 years old was only the 4th quarterback to throw for over 5000 yards in a season in NFL history and the 1st player in Detroit sports history to do a “This is SportsCenter” commercial alone is reason enough for the artist to start the preliminary sketches for his bust.
We all know it’s all about the ‘Rings’. If this current generation of players, Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh, etc. can start a nice jewelry collection of their own then the Lions will have a nice problem of having too many candidates for the honor.