Window of opportunity closing quickly for Lions

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By Billy Steigelman, Intern

It’s been 57 years since the Detroit Lions have appeared in any sort of NFL championship, the Super Bowl, or its predecessor, the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. For this reason, the Lions are seen as one of the worst franchises in all of sports.

Only two other teams within a single city experienced a longer championship drought than the Lions: the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs have gone 108 years without capturing a World Series, a curse thought to be caused by many famous incidents such as the Curse of the Billy Goat and the infamous Steve Bartman incident of 2003. This leads one to think: what curses do the Lions have, being the only team in NFL history to go 0-16. What superstition causes us to be the only team  pre-dating the Super Bowl who has yet to be in one?

The truth is, no curse was placed on the Lions. What really haunts the team is the constant hiring of mediocre coaches who can’t develop the skilled players they get in the top half of the draft. You would think that, with nine top-ten picks since 2000, the Lions would have been able to slowly bring out the best in those players and make the team a Super Bowl contender. Instead, they have posted an abysmal record of 107-160, proving that, while talented players are an important part of a team, so is good coaching.

Look at a team like the New England Patriots, the most successful organization in the NFL with a total of four Super Bowl trophies out of six Super Bowl appearances. They aren’t filled with incoming players with the most potential, but players who have been developed to do certain jobs. For example, Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play, and was drafted in the sixth round. Now I’m not saying that Brady isn’t extremely talented, but to say he was this impressive coming out of college is absurd. The Patriots’ coaches helped him transform into the superstar he is today.

The Lions of the past seemed to disappear last year, after they concluded 11-5 and made it to the playoffs during head coach Jim Caldwell’s first year. Viewers’ expectations were high this year as quarterback Matthew Stafford seemed to be capable of taking the Lions far and star wide receiver Calvin Johnson would return for an entire, healthy season. But the Lions showed their true colors once again in the first game of the season, blowing a 21-3 lead to the San Diego Chargers to start the season on a negative note. Now, 1-6 and tied for the worst record in the league, the Lions are far away from going back to the playoffs.

The Lions’ window to finally break their no championship streak is still open but may slam shut sooner than expected. Johnson is now 30 years old, his skill level slowly declining, and Stafford may not be who the Lions thought he was when they first drafted him back in 2009. If the Lions don’t make a run to the Super Bowl in the next five years, they will fall into a Cubs-like drought, and Detroit won’t triumph with an NFL championship for another half-century.