Lions vs. Packers is the longest-running rivalry in NFL history.
What do the following things all have in common? The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field, Ahman Green, Donald Driver, Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson and freakin' Samkon Gado!
Of course, all those names are from the last 20 years. The truth is, the Green Bay Packers have been dominating the Lions much longer than that.
The teams have been facing each other twice a year since 1932. They became division rivals one year later. That's over 80 years of competition, more than enough time for Lions fans to develop a healthy hatred for the cheeseheads.
Some of you might think the Chicago Bears deserve the most hate. In recent years, the arrival of Jay Cutler has made the rivalry as heated as ever. His sideline pouting sessions, run-ins with Ndamukong Suh and winning record against the Lions have made him public enemy No. 1 in Motown.
For that reason, beating the Bears on Monday Night Football in 2011 was a cathartic event and arguably one of the biggest highlights of the last decade.
One can't ignore that Lions vs. Packers is the longest-running rivalry in the NFL though, and for all those years—Lions fans have to admit it—the Packers have had their way with the Honolulu Blue and Silver.
The overall record is 97-65-7 in favor of Green Bay, and the Pack have outscored the Lions by nearly 1,000 points in those games.
Even worse, they are 2-0 in the postseason against the hapless Lions.
The truth hurts sometimes. If seeing those stats gives you heartburn or makes you want to go eat a pound of cheese, you know you are a real Lions fan.
Relax. Channel your inner Frank Costanza and shout "Serenity Now!" at the top of your lungs.
The past 80-plus years are in the rear view. The Lions are a different team now, with a different attitude—we hope—and they're moving in the right direction.
That doesn't nullify the intense desire to beat the pants off those green-and-gold yahoos from across the lake, and isn't that what "hate" boils down to in the world of sports? Lions fans want to beat the Packers more than anyone else. Not just beat them, but beat them badly. Embarrass them even; multiple times, in various ways and for a long period of time.
A history of butt-whoopings isn't the only reason why, either.
The Packers Have What Lions Fans Want
I'm not talking about Super Bowl wins; I'll get to that later. What the Packers have that Lions fans want is myth, legend and historical significance.
They have a myriad of Hall of Famers who helped make the NFL what it is today. Vince Lombardi, Ray Nitschke, Bart Starr and Reggie White all had huge impacts on the NFL.
Lombardi's speeches will live forever. Nitschke typified the kind of hard-nosed never-say-die player every team wanted. Defensive ends will be trying to emulate White's powerful pass rush forever.
The Lions have no such players in their history. Bobby Layne is more famous for the curse he put on the Lions when he left than for what he did when he played.
Alex Karras is more famous for his work on television and in film than for playing football in Detroit.
Then there's Barry Sanders. He's one player Lions fans could always hang their hat on. Arguably the greatest running back in NFL history, he chose retirement over playing out his career in Detroit.
Lions fans want players that matter. They want NFL-defining games like the Ice Bowl in 1967. Most importantly, they want to have pride in their team.
The Packers have given their fans something to be proud of. The Lions have given their fans decades of embarrassment.
The Packers have made it their job to dominate the Lions year after year, so fans' hate for Green Bay really boils down to all those losses.
Even on the rare occasion when the Lions steal a win from them, like in 2010, there's always an asterisk. In this case, Aaron Rodgers was knocked out of the game. So the Lions' 7-3 victory actually turned into a negative.
The Packers were without their best player and the Lions managed to beat them by only four points?
Regardless, it's the losses that chap the you-know-what of Lions' fans, and there are three particular games that stand out.
In 1993, the Lions finished 10-6 and beat the Packers in the last game of the season. They won home-field advantage in the playoffs, and fans were going crazy. Sanders, Herman Moore and Rodney Peete were poised to make a playoff run.
Unfortunately, they had to play the Packers again in the first round. Any knucklehead could tell you the Lions' chances of beating them twice in a row were slim to none. The Pack knocked the Lions out of the playoffs by the score 28-24.
Dreams were dashed.
The following season, the Lions were riding a wave of positive energy from the previous year's playoff berth. They went 9-7 and reached the playoffs for the second straight year.
That year would be different, right?
Wrong. The Packers held Sanders to minus-1 yard rushing and the Lions to minus-4 yards rushing as a team. The Lions lost 16-12, but it was how the game ended that really boiled fans' blood.
The Packers intentionally took a safety to run out the clock and seal the victory. That's bush league and made Lions fans all the more irate.
Finally, the Packers had the pleasure of putting the final nail in the coffin of the worst season in NFL history. They beat the Lions 31-21 on December 28, 2008 and the Lions finished 0-16.
It was painful for fans to watch the Lions go winless, but to lose the final game to the Packers was excruciating.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Matthew Stafford
Today, the Lions are in a great position to get revenge on the Packers. For the first time in forever, they have a legitimate franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford. On paper, he is every bit the equal of the Packers all-world QB, Aaron Rodgers.
Well, except for one little thing, but I'll get to that in a second.
Stafford was drafted higher, his arm is just as strong as Rodgers' and he's thrown for a ton more yards the last two years.
Stafford is the player that was supposed to lead the Lions to victory over the Packers, and beyond. It hasn't happened. The Lions continue to flounder while the Packers continue to beat them.
That's because despite all of Stafford's talent and abilities, Rodgers will always have something over him—a Super Bowl win. Rodgers has a ring, and that will always give him an edge—until Stafford gets one of his own.
The Rodgers/Stafford comparison is a good metaphor for the Lions/Packers rivalry and the reason Lions fans hate on the Packers so much.
Green Bay will always be one up on Detroit. The Packers have legitimacy born from decades of winning football and championship seasons. Regardless of who it comes from—Rodgers, Brett Favre, Bart Starr—the Packers have developed the reputation of being winners and doing it the right way. The fact that they've done at the Lions' expense, as division rivals, only strengthens fans' dislike for them.
They are what the Lions want to be, and what Lions fans want to cheer for. That makes losing to them even harder. Every defeat is a harsh reminder of what the Lions aren't and how far they have to go.
Until the Lions start to even the score, the hatred for the Packers will continue as strong as ever.
Wait, what am I talking about? Lions fans will always hate the Packers.
Like football on Thanksgiving Day, it's a tradition.
*All stats courtesy of the Detroit Lions Team Encyclopedia on Pro-Football-Reference.