The Lions get it wrong again

Written by :
Published on : June 11, 2017

 

 

There’s probably nothing to it.

 

I hope there’s nothing to it.

 

Dear God, this can’t be happening again.

 

In a situation that is sadly familiar to fans of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, it seems that their most recent mega-star has walked into early retirement holding onto some hard feelings against the team. With shades of Barry Sanders, who retired in his prime via a fax on the eve of training camp, the Lions have bid farewell to Megatron, who was still one of the league’s top receivers when he walked away. Calvin Johnson didn’t screw the team over like Sanders; the team knew he had been contemplating retirement because his body was breaking down from the beating it took over the years. Sanders actions had made it clear that he was displeased with the team, but as far as regular Lions fans were concerned, the team and Calvin Johnson were all good when he retired. But we all may have been wrong.

 

A couple weeks ago, Calvin was asked about the possibility of having his jersey number retired in Detroit, to which he responded “I don’t even like to talk Lions too much just because of the way our relationship ended.” For Lions fans, it was hard to hear that the team may have soured another relationship with a player that means so much to the city. Calvin insists that there’s no hard feelings but it sure doesn’t seem like things are cool between him and the team. So what could it be that has caused this possible rift between the two sides?

 

Calvin-Johnson1

 

Well, it turns out that the team asked him to repay a portion of the $3.2 million signing bonus from his $100 million contract. The team’s logic would seem to be that since the contract was not yet completed, and in cap terms, the signing bonus split evenly over the years of a contract, that the team was still owed a portion of the bonus. Player’s on the other hand, see a signing bonus as money already earned because it’s a bonus given at time the contract is signed.

 

Now technically speaking, I would have to agree that the team is entitled to ask for a portion of that money back, but it also seems like kind of a dick move. At first it was reported that Johnson had repaid $320,ooo but a more recent report claims that the amount may have been as high as one million. Either is a paltry amount to Johnson to be sure, but also a truly insignificant amount to any NFL franchise. Especially when you consider that neither the Seahawks or Cowboys, two successful franchises with Lombardi hardware, asked for any amount of money back from Marshawn Lynch or Tony Romo when they retired before fulfilling their contracts.

 

The Lions would have been much better off letting Calvin Johnson, a guy who destroyed his own body in the name of the team, keep that money. The Seahawks and the Cowboys did it with their superstars because it was the right thing to do. When you think about the kind of money that a player of Calvin Johnson’s caliber can bring to an organization in the way of ticket and jersey sales, it just seems petty and cheap. We fans can only hope that they haven’t permanently destroyed the relationship.

 

052317-johnson-cp

 

After Barry Sanders retired, the team filed a grievance in order to recoup part of his signing bonus and it led to the team and Sanders being disassociated from each other for years. Now, as the second season since Calvin walked away rolls around, he is attending Oakland Raiders OTAs as a guest. When coupled with the fact that he seems to be lukewarm at best to the idea of the Lions as an entity in general, fans should be sad and maybe even outraged.

 

With Barry Sanders it was maybe just a case of him screwing the team and the team screwing him back. But when it happens with another football icon, maybe the team needs to look in the mirror and reevaluate. The Lions might be incapable to having anything but a toxic relationship. Maybe they should talk to someone, and quick. Because Calvin Johnson must have his jersey hanging in the rafters at Ford Field and he must be part of the Detroit Lions family. He needs to be attending Lions OTAs and be seen as a prominent figure in Detroit football and Detroit the city. If he isn’t, then I can’t see any reason that the team’s next phenom would want to be part of the family for the long haul.

 

 


The Lions’ success is a blemish on Calvin Johnson’s HOF resume

Written by :
Published on : December 22, 2016

 

 

When Calvin Johnson retired at the end of last season, the prevailing theory was that the Detroit Lions were doomed. They were once again losing one of the most prolific offensive superstars ever to play the game. Instead of having a long storied career, Megatron decided to walk away from the game after just nine seasons. Shades of Barry Sanders had fans of the team up in arms. Once again a transcendent offensive weapon was choosing to hang it up early as opposed to continuing on with an organization that was heading nowhere.

 

Like many others, I was fearful that the loss of Calvin Johnson would negatively impact the team, and the offense specifically. I also had an opposing suspicion that losing the Megatron security blanket, could actually help advance Matthew Stafford’s progression as a quarterback. Through 14 games this season, it seems as though the latter turned out to be true. Stafford is in the midst of one of the best stretches of his career, and while a new offensive coordinator deserves a lot of credit for that, you can’t help but notice that he is spreading the ball around like never before. No longer does he have one of the best wide receivers in the game to lock in on, and it seems to have benefited the team in a big way. Does all of this hurt Calvin Johnson’s already much-disputed case for the Hall of Fame?

 

 He was great, but did the offense’s focus on him hinder the team as a whole?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still think the unbelievable physical talent that Calvin Johnson brought to the NFL merits his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But with how the Detroit Lions have performed this season without him, I think his case has been hurt in a big way. After the team’s 1-3 start, it was easy to start pointing fingers, and some people surely looked to the void left by Johnson’s departure as a contributing factor. Since then, however, the team has gone on a complete tear, winning 8 of their last 10 games. The team sits at 9-5 and is on the verge of possibly winning their first division title since 1993.

 

This works against Calvin Johnson’s case for the Hall of Fame. Where people were pointing at his lack of longevity as the biggest mark against him, people will now also look at the team’s success this season in his absence when making a case against his induction. During Megatron’s nine seasons in Detroit the team only threatened for the division title once or twice, and now in his first season as a professional dancer, they have a two game lead with only three games to play.

 

 From football to Dancing with the Stars.

 

In five years, when the time comes to start considering the man known as Megatron for Canton people will surely point to this season as a reason for his exclusion. For reasons that are beyond me, it was already an uphill battle for Calvin Johnson. If the team should win the division, and somehow manage to win a playoff game, you can be almost certain that there will never be a bust of Megatron in Canton, Ohio.

 

Are the Lions a better team this year? Almost certainly. Does that have something to do with Calvin Johnson’s departure? There’s no way to tell for sure, but you better believe that people will paint it that way.

 

 


A Goat Broke my Ankles

Written by :
Published on : September 8, 2016

 

 

A farm animal faked me out. Totally broke my ankles. I’m not proud of it but it’s true and it happened. Let me set the scene so you can really appreciate the beauty of this story. The greatest-of-all-time goat. That’s right, the G.O.A.T of goats. It was way back in 2005, I was a film school sophomore in Chicago. My roommate invited me to California for the summer to visit his family. I declined because I was too broke but my buddy had a hook. His mom was running an event and needed extra help. We could go work for a few days and that would pay for the rest of the trip. I was in.

 

The event was the Solano county fair in Vallejo, California. Those who don’t know Solano, it’s the stretch of land wedged between San Fransisco and Sacramento. All I knew about Vallejo was that it was home to rapper E-40 and at least three of the Zodiac Killer murders. Or wine country. Whatever. We flew west and made our way to the fair where we would stay in an RV on the grounds. Working a carnival, living in a trailer. I was 20-years-old and it was my first day as a carny.

 

E-40
Rapper E-40

 

My buddy got some cushy indoor gig running the vendors hall. I got stuck with security. But it was cool. They gave you a walkie-talkie and access to the golf carts. Plus a hat and a few t-shirts. Everyone loves free shirts. Stationed at the “director’s gate,” my main job was to let in the fair directors with their gold parking pass. This was the VIP access. And no one got past me and my cones unless you had the proper credentials. Until that hooved bastard shit on my integrity.

 

This is how it all went down. I was diligently guarding my cones when I got a chirp on the walkie. “Attention director’s gate, there is a loose goat headed in your direction, don’t let it leave.” Before I could respond, I looked down the path and saw something coming towards me. I focused my eyes in the bright sun and saw these horns barreling down the asphalt. Running for its life. I’ve never seen an animal move so quick. It was the Usain Bolt of goats. Usain Goat, if you will.

 

Austria Weather

 

Now, growing up in Detroit, I didn’t have a lot of hands-on goat training. Or any farm handling skills. So I had no clue what to do. The goat was almost on me. I got in the middle of the road, bent my knees and stretched my arms out. Trying to occupy as much space as possible. Thinking I could stop the beast and turn it back to wherever it came from. Wrong.

 

It dashed to my right side. I collapsed hard to meet it but it spun beautifully back to the left. Like classic Barry Sanders bouncing a run away from the linebackers and into open space. I tried to recover but as I lunged, the goat faked again and I fell on my ass, holding air. The goat ran free into general admission parking.

 

barry-sanders fake out

 

I sat there, defeated. I couldn’t even attempt standing because, you know, the goat broke my ankles. Just then, a pair of pickup trucks full of 4H cowboys pull up. And I mean, full-on cowboy hats, boots, belts, buckles, the full nine. They look at me and I just point the direction the goat went. Now this part, I can’t remember if it’s what really happened or just how I felt at the time but I’m pretty sure they all shook their heads in disgust as they cruised by.

 

Thinking back, fuck those 4H dicks, they are the ones who let their prized goat get away. It’s not my fault. Also, I never went full game speed, at least that’s what I tell myself. I didn’t want to hurt it. But honestly, I never had a chance. The goat wanted freedom, I wanted to not be fired. One of us was working harder. I can acknowledge now, that the goat, was one of my greatest athletic opponents. And cheers to that. We all need goats in our life, to push us and make us better.

 

Juked me baddddddd!

 

 


Lions to celebrate legacy of ineptitude by honoring 1991 team

Written by :
Published on : July 17, 2016

 

This is just sad.

 

The Detroit Lions announced last week that they will be honoring the 1991 team that went to the NFC Championship on October 16, when the team faces off against the Los Angeles Rams. But what exactly are they celebrating?

 

 Lomas Brown and the rest of the ’91 Lions already celebrated that divisional playoff victory when it happened.

 

On the surface it seems like the team has decided to honor their best team of the Super Bowl era. The team that has the distinct honor of giving the franchise its lone playoff victory since 1957, a 38-6 win over the Cowboys in the divisional round. But what does the fact that they are spending time and money to honor a team that got destroyed in the NFC Championship game say about the franchise as a whole?

 

It says a whole lot actually.

 

First, it says that this has been a bad team for a very, very long time. A team so awful that the only thing worth celebrating is the ONE time they made it to the conference title game. Never mind that the Detroit Lions got obliterated by a score of 41-10 at the hands of the Washington Redskins. Let’s give the boys a participation trophy, cuz ya’ know, they tried.

 

I really hope Bob tried to talk Martha out of this idea.
I really hope Bob tried to talk Martha out of this idea.

 

Second, it says that ownership still doesn’t get it. It’s almost like a slap in the face to us fans. We’ve stood by the team through all of the losing and horrible management, and your thanks to us is a ceremony to remind us how stupid we are for supporting you all these years. I love this team but they sure do make it hard sometimes. The focus should be on winning games. It should always have been about winning games. Highlighting the single time the Lions ever made a run at the championship only to get bounced in such epic fashion, shows complacency at the highest levels of the organization. They should be devoting their energy to assembling a winner that actually gives us something to cheer about.

 

It’s doubtful that he had much control over it, but I hope that new general manager, Bob Quinn, put up a little bit of a fight about this. The Lions stole him away from the New England Patriots in the hopes that he could instill that winning attitude in the organization. Do you think the Patriots would be commemorating an embarrassing conference championship loss? I think not.

 

The players from that era deserve all of the respect and praise in the world. I loved guys like Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, Brett Perriman, Lomas Brown, Chris Spielman and Bennie Blades. The organization owes them a lot and they should be recognized, but I think making a big deal over the 25th anniversary of a team that didn’t actually win anything significant sends the wrong message.

 

 Barry Sanders deserves all the love but is this really the way to show it?

 

It sends the message that the Detroit Lions might not believe they can get to that next level. Like, that one time 25 years ago when we made it within a game of the big one and got our asses handed to us is the best it will ever get.

 

Maybe I’m over reacting. Maybe I’m not. As much as this team has put me through, I’m still an optimist when it comes to them (as seen here). I just want the team to stop accepting losing season after losing season and raise the bar on their expectations of themselves. Once they do that, maybe they can start being competitive on a consistent basis, but reliving the losing past definitely isn’t the way to make that happen.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Review ‘n Brew: Week 9

Written by :
Published on : November 14, 2015

 

 

 

In this little corner Roger Pretzel will review his favorite play of the week along with a thoughtful review of what beverage he was imbibing at the time.

 

 

Week 9: Mariota Lobs to Fasano for the O.T. Win in New Orleans

 

VIDEO: HERE

 

I’m pleased that big-ticket rookie quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston have had exciting first year seasons dotted with as many downs and ups as one might want. I’m a defense minded guy, and there were a ton of great sacks and picks I wanted to select for this week, but sometimes you gotta go for the real-deal highlight. Regardless if it was executed as planned, this one is still a pretty gutsy play call. Granted, the Titans were first and 10 with a field goal given, but you don’t want to give it back to Drew in OT. Mariota bootlegs and even though he throws against his body, the Saints were sold on defending the right side of the field. A real sweet win for the new guy in Tennessee.

 

Week 9: Human Blood

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By day I watch football in the confines of my private sports lair. Thick black drapes block out all light from that hateful star helios, as I sip forbidden nectar from my ornately carved pewter goblet. Night falls splendidly, and I emerge to refill my glass. Know this: I am always hungry, never satiated. I glide over to my personal sidebar only to find my cut-crystal decanter empty. How horrid. How thrilling. I must hunt tonight! I don my black velvet waistcoat. It fits tightly at the waist and broadly at the shoulders just as I like it. It looks especially dashing with my favorite cravat, black navy pants, and shiny leather boots. Finally, I brush out my long platinum hair and apply a touch of rouge to my pallid cheeks. How I wish I could see myself in the mirror before leaving…

 

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At the discotheque, I slide silently amongst the reveling throngs of man-cattle. “How beautiful they are before the slaughter,” I think to myself with a wicked giggle. My heightened senses can feel the amplified pumping of dozens of aortas and the resulting flow of life-wine in time to the music. It kind of gives me a boner, and this DJ is really good tonight.

 

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I request a table and quickly entice some company. They are adequately attractive mortals. One is male, the other female. I order the most expensive bottle of champagne on the menu and do an amazing job of pretending to be interested in the inanities my newfound sheep. My glassy, translucent skin is starting to itch. It’s time to end the formalities.

 

Me: “Would you two like to come back to my place? I have a terribly expensive wine collection that I unfortunately never get around to drinking.” Of course, they agree.

 

We Uber it back to my place. I open a bottle of wine but am too antsy to keep the charade up for much longer. As they drink I start to talk about my heroes: Dick Butkus, Barry Sanders, Joe Montana, Dracula…

 

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I strike quickly before the charade can get any more awkward. As I drain the life-essence of my guests, I laugh at the terror in their bovine eyes. Shortly before the male finally succumbs, he sees my collection of Detroit Lions hats mounted on the wall of my sports lair. My eyes meet his in shame.

 

Dying Male: “You’re a Detroit Lions fan? Good luck, jerk.”

 

He dies and I drink his blood in cold sorrow. I howl at the moon, shamed.

 

 


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