Detroit Lions history of the dreaded phrase: ‘Same Old Lions’
Outside of Detroit, the abbreviation means “s**t outta’ luck”. By 2013, S.O.L. alternatively meant “Same Old Lions” around the state, and after Michigan-born Tony Dungy said it on national TV, everyone around the country knew it too.
Midway through that same season, I made the mistake of declaring a “Different Same Old Lions” team, in my old Honolulu Bromothymol blog. The Lions had just won 21-19 on the road at Chicago, moving to 6-3 and first place in the division. Aaron Rodgers was out indefinitely, the Lions had swept the season series with the Bears, and the schedule was only getting easier the rest of the way.
Even more encouraging, I noted, was that the Lions had made six separate ‘S.O.L’ types of mistakes in the 4th quarter of that Chicago game. Every single time, they made another big play to make up for it and survive. If they can make all of these ‘S.O.L.’ mistakes and yet still hang on to win, wasn’t that the final proof needed that this team was different?
Not exactly. Despite holding leads in the 4th quarter of every game the rest of the season, the Lions lost six of the last seven to inexplicably lose in the depleted NFC North, and S.O.L. was alive and well.
Now it’s a hashtag every time Matthew Stafford throws an interception. Now it’s a three letter text message between old college buddies every time we learn about another obscure quirk from the rule book that costs the Lions a game. Rather than getting over-excited about a few early season wins, S.O.L. is that looming constant reminder that until the confetti is falling and it’s the guys in Honolulu blue that are holding up the Lombardi trophy (and not just on Madden), there’s no evidence that this time will be any different than the last.
But we always get taken in.
So when will it end?
I’m not going to be very popular for saying this, but if history is any indicator, it won’t.
For those who are sick and tired of hearing this played out phrase, the quick assumption is the moniker can be killed off with a Lions championship. Think again.
In the 1954 NFL Championship game, as the Cleveland Browns were in the process of knocking off Detroit, Browns tackle Don Colo is said to have growled, “Same old Lions, they always fold up.” At the time, the Lions were back-to-back NFL champions and were undefeated in their previous eight matchups against Cleveland. If being two time defending champs isn’t enough to put an end to all this ‘Same Old Lions’ stuff, I’m afraid nothing is.
I will promise this, however. Now that I know the full history and inescapably of the phrase, this is the last time I will use it, and the last time I will be bothered by it. The best way to make it disappear is for fans to do the same.