Breathe Lions fans, luckily your season isn’t over before it begins. Saturday nights in August are to NFL football what Red Lobster is to fine dining. You know when you find yourself having to ‘tear yourself’ away from Kitchen Nightmares reruns on BBC to check out the score of an NFL game something is wrong. However, preseason football is like taxes and Justin Bieber—a fact of life that we’re just going to have to deal with forever…or at least until Bieber makes it through puberty.
Nothing good can come of a preseason game, but everything bad can. A season flashed before our eyes during the Lions preseason game against the Oakland Raiders when Matthew Stafford came up with an apparent significant hand injury. The injury, more than the performances on the field, kept me glued to the TV. No timely injury updates came from the stellar preseason crew, just occasional images of Stafford on the sideline with a bloated sock puppet on his hand. Eventually around halftime word got out that Stafford would be OK and the season was salvaged for now, but the feeling of unease makes you realize how fragile the Lions season is.
No other injury would devastate the Lions like one to Stafford would. A litany of running backs, scrap heap cornerbacks, a wafer thin offensive line—all of those problems would be bruises compared to the full cardiac arrest of a Stafford injury. Yes, even if the Madden Curse is indeed for real–and you-know-who hits the injury report–the Lions have the prospect of Nate Burleson stepping up his game and Titus Young or Ryan Broyles flourishing in the spotlight. Shaun Hill is among the best backup QBs in the league. He’s the difference between an overmatched four win Lions team and a team that might win seven games. Stafford, however, is the difference between a mediocre team and a team that might end 20 years of playoff futility.
Lions’ fans biggest fears, won’t come to fruition for now. Matthew Stafford will be OK. He’ll be playing week one and he’ll probably tear the St. Louis Rams’ defense to shreds. Still, for a couple of tension filled hours Saturday night, it seemed that the Lions season might have been in jeopardy before it even began.