There are only teams left that have not appeared in the Super Bowl. Our beloved Detroit Lions are at the top of this list. It is one of a few lists that the Lions are at the top of as the other three are all recent expansion teams.
Besides the Lions, these teams are the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have a long and rich history, but it was interrupted when owner Art Modell skipped town in the middle of the night and the franchise became the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. The Browns reformed in 1999, and in doing so the NFL decided its franchise history would stay with them. Since then, they’ve beared witness to the Ravens winning two super bowls while they’ve made one playoff appearance total. That being said, the Browns fans at least had the pleasure of living through the successes of the Bernie Kosar era, and though they fell short to John Elway’s Broncos three times in the AFC championship game, they at least were a dominant team throughout that period. Any Lions fan would gladly trade the opportunity to get there for what they’ve seen, which is one playoff win total in the super bowl era.
Where does it end? You would think after the history making 0-16 2008 season that they had hit rock bottom. Surrounding that, Detroit also set a record for most consecutive road losses, losing 26 in a row between 2007-2010. They were breaking their own record of 24 from 2001-2003. Basically, after Barry Sanders retired, they couldn’t win. Don’t blame Barry, the Lions have been awful since they traded Bobby Layne. Layne said at that point that the Lions would be cursed for 50 years. Layne’s vision was shortsighted, its been 56 now, it would be nice if he would let it go.
This week headlines in Detroit featured the mystery of a sad faced Lions fan on a billboard downtown with just the words, GO LIONS 2014. A little investigation later, it was found that the picture was taken at last years loss to the Ravens as a 61 yard field goal after yet another Matt Stafford interception sent the Lions to another heartbreaking defeat. The fans father and brother paid for the billboard to be erected near his workplace as a joke. While not the first time being a fan of the Lions has become a punchline, it is the most recent. Jay Leno took the Lions to task during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, eventually leading to Johnny Morton telling Leno to “kiss his a**” when the Lions finally ended their streak of losses.
Hope shined through in 2011. The Lions made the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Stafford passed for over 5,000 yards, Calvin Johnson became unstoppable after having a series of less than inspiring signal callers throwing to him. Now, two years later, the team and its fans find themselves at a crossroads. At 6-3 in 2013, with the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers both in free fall due to a rash of injuries, the Lions looked poised to host a playoff game and win the NFC North for the first time since the division formed. That light at the end of the tunnel now looks like a train and though fans aren’t likely to return to putting bags over their heads or marching in protest for the general manager to be fired, they are most likely heading to another mediocre season. It is not 0-16, but it sure isn’t a division title, and most Lions fans would love to say that at least they were there. Layne left this world in 1986, his curse a little over half completed, and here, 28 years later it still looms large.