Why Detroit Lions fans remain the most tortured in the NFL

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse

Here is why the Detroit Lions faithful fans are still being tested by the Football Gods more than any other fandom in the entire NFL.

DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 05: Fans cheer during the game between the Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field on October 05, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions recent stretch of competence, which includes some scattered playoff appearances and varying degrees of contention within the NFC North, has deafened a lot the running jokes about the franchise’s futility.

The Lions are no longer the LOLions and other teams within the NFL have ascended to the top of the buffoonery platform (looking at you Cleveland Browns). But even as Detroit is winning games, they aren’t winning enough to erase the echoes of a lowly and depressing past.

Wasted Generational Talents

The Lions have won exactly one playoff game since the 1957 season. It’s long been assumed that the team’s failure to place a competitive group around Barry Sanders, arguably the greatest running back of all time, led in part to his early retirement.

Before last season the team lost arguably the greatest wide receiver of all time, Calvin Johnson, to early retirement as well and the teams inability to contend for a Super Bowl has been cited as one of the reasons for Calvin’s departure. No other NFL Franchise has squandered two skill players of Sanders’ and Johnson’s caliber like the Lions have.

I attended Johnson’s final game, a meaningless divisional battle at a frigid Soldier Field, against the Bears. I witnessed his final spectacular touchdown catch and I remember thinking to myself that this was the last time I’m going to see Calvin do his thing in a Lions uniform. I could tell from his body language he was done.

Johnson looked as if he’d been on the wrong end of one too many of quarterback Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary passes (more on that later). The Lions wasting generational talents is something no other group of fans can relate to. But unlike Barry and Calvin, Detroit fans can’t just retire from the team, we’re in this for life no matter how agonizing Lions fandom can get.

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse