It may be news to some people but the Lions weren't always the laughing stock of the NFL. As a matter of fact, in the 1990s, they were pretty good.
Led by the running of Barry Sanders, the Lions made the playoffs six times. They also won three division titles, and actually beat the Dallas Cowboys in a playoff game!
1991 was the Lions' best season since the 1950s. After getting stomped in the opener 45-0 by the Washington Redskins, the Lions rattled off four wins in a row. They would win nine more games that season including that playoff trouncing of the Cowboys 38-6.
The season ended the way it started however, another embarrassing beating doled out by the Redskins, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
The Lions' fans had much to cheer about during the quest for five more playoff appearances. We saw Barry Sanders rack up over 15,000 yards rushing, including 2,053 in 1997. His humble demeanor was in this writer's opinion, as impressive as his electrifying play!
We saw Herman Moore shatter Lions' receiving records with three straight 100-reception seasons. In 1995, he set the NFL record for receptions in a season with 123. In that same year, teammate Brett Perriman caught 108 balls, making them the first receiving duo in NFL history to record 100 catches in the same season.
Bruising defense was a trademark during the '90s led by Chris Speilman, Bennie Blades, and Robert Porcher. Bennie's crushing hits brought fear to opposing receivers. Speilman's heart was inspiring. He played with reckless abandon despite a plethora of injuries.
Porcher had a rare combination of being a great pass rusher and a great run stopper.
I wrote this article to remind Lions' fans of why we are Lions' fans! A good offseason this year could set us up to return to our previous inconsistent glory! So for anyone questioning their fandom, I want to leave you with this visual.
Picture Barry running into a pile of eight Vikings, the play appears over. Then Barry pops up, spins, and takes off. I will never forget that!