The Detroit Lions have struggled as a franchise about as much as the “Motor City” itself.
They are tied with the Cleveland Browns (never a good sign) for the longest championship drought in the Super Bowl era – 51 years.
With such prolonged futility, it’s no wonder Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson recently said what he did about the organization.
Johnson, following in Barry Sanders’ footsteps, retired because the Lions’ Super Bowl prospects were basically hopeless.
From SB Nation:
Calvin Johnson finally shed some more light on his decision to retire in 2016. He told the Italian press on Tuesday that the Detroit Lions’ futility had a lot to do with it. It’s a familiar refrain in Detroit. And the Lions hold the distinction of chasing TWO Hall of Famers out of the game.
From Johnson’s interview (via the Detroit News):
“I was stuck in my contract with Detroit, and they told me, they would not release my contract, so I would have to come back to them. I didn’t see the chance for them to win a Super Bowl at the time, and for the work I was putting in, it wasn’t worth my time to keep on beating my head against the wall … and not going anywhere.
“It’s the definition of insanity.”
Football is a brutal game. Johnson was paid a fair rate for his level of amazingness — signing a $132 million deal in 2012. The only other reason players subject themselves to this level of physical abuse is for the chance to win the greatest prize in sports.
Where have we heard all of this before? Go back to 1999 when Barry Sanders retired, perfectly healthy and probably with another season or two of greatness in his legs.
The Lions actually sued Sanders to recoup $5.5 million of bonus money from his contract, which is probably the same amount of money the Ford Family spent on Thanksgiving dinner that year. Sanders offered to pay the money back if they would release him, and his agent tried to get them to trade the legendary running back. But it was fruitless. The Lions held fast…Sanders’ NFL career was over.
Megatron’s career is over too. Thanks, Lions.
The Lions have been so inept as a franchise, arguably the best Running Back and Wide Receiver of all-time chose to retire in the prime instead of languishing on a dead-end team.
Going winless for an entire season (the only franchise to go 0-16) might’ve been less embarrassing than breaking the spirits of two Hall of Famers.
In only 9 seasons, Johnson amassed 731 catches, 11,619 yards, and 83 touchdowns. However, he only appeared in two playoff games – both losses.
The current face of the Detroit Lions is Quarterback Matthew Stanford.
If he mysteriously walks away from the game of football with several good years left in the tank, the Lions may as well fold their franchise.