With Super Bowl LIV approaching, a countdown of former Detroit Lions players who left town and then lifted the Lombardi trophy elsewhere.
It’s a well-worn theme whenever Detroit Lions fans give voice to one of the frustrations built up from an unsuccessful stretch of losing now spanning multiple generations.
Something that we just can’t understand is how it seems like as soon as an underperforming guy leaves Detroit, suddenly his career is reignited and he finds all kinds of football success elsewhere. Eric Ebron and Golden Tate were two of those guys last year, Quandre Diggs and Laken Tomlinson are two of them this year.
Are we exaggerating this supposed effect though? Is this just finding yet another reason to take cheap shots at the Lions, their coaches, the Fords, the Millens, and even ourselves, because we’re all tired of the losing, the jokes, and basking in the glow of reflected ineptitude, but don’t seem any closer to a title after all these years? How many ex-Lions guys really go somewhere else and achieve the game’s ultimate prize, winning the Super Bowl?
As it turns out, it doesn’t happen as often as you might think. Admittedly, my memory only stretches back so far, and I’m leaving large parts of the 70s and 80s under-researched here, but it’s actually pretty hard to find Lions who went on to Super Bowl titles after leaving Detroit, with even fewer who were stars or even key contributors on the teams they got their rings with.
Here’s my Top 5 of this rare group, with the ranking order based more on their contributions to the Lions than the impact they made on their future team’s Super Bowl runs later on.
5. Kyle Van Noy– Linebacker (2014-16)
As a Lion: In many ways, picking Jahlani Tavai in the 2nd round last year was an attempt at a Kyle Van Noy do-over. Drafted in the 2nd round in 2014, Van Noy became a starter for Detroit in the 2016 season, but apparently wasn’t playing up to expectations. After only two and a half years, he was traded away to New England before the midseason deadline, for what essentially amounted to nothing in return.
Super Bowl moment: Two and a half years after not being able to cut it in Detroit, Van Noy was on the field for every single defensive play of Super Bowl LIII, sacked Jared Goff once, and held up the Lombardi Trophy for the second time. For how often the Lions have stocked up on any and everyone with ties to New England over the last few years, of course it was a Lion coming to New England that became an ex-factor on defense as the Patriot train kept on rolling.