As the Detroit Lions season slowly chugs along like a pontoon boat stuck in jello, I'm reminded time and time again by co-workers and friends of players of years past.
So, I'll talk about some of my favorite Detroit Lions heroes.
Now remember folks, I didn't start watching pro football till around the 1979-1980 season. So I didn't see the great Bobby Lane, Alex Karras and other talented Lions from the 1950s and 1960s. My memories are from 1979 to present day.
I know what your saying, "you poor soul."
1. Billy Sims, Running Back (1980 to 1984)
Ah yes, all those hours spent in my parents back yard in knee deep snow thinking I was Billy Sims. Billy had it all. Vision, speed, and power. If the Lions wouldn't have run Billy's career into the ground, he would have held more records.
Sims was the 1978 Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma.
2. Barry Sanders, Running Back (1989 to 1998)
The great Barry Sanders. So many highlights in his career that you could make several feature films about it.
Barry would make moves that would make the best NFL linebackers go, "how'd he do that, I had him all lined up and whoosh he was gone."
Probably my favorite all-time Barry Sanders run was an 80-yard run that he didn't score on, but he ran right out of his shoe. Barry made it to the Tampa Bay 5-yard line and made it to the 2 without one of his shoe's. Let's see you run 75 yards, then lose a shoe. Amazing.
Barry won the 1988 Hesiman trophy out of Oklahoma State.
3. Luther Elliss, Defensive Tackle (1995 to 2003)
Luther was and always will be one of my favorites. He had a motor that was non-stop and he was as tough as a box of roofing nails.
One of my favorite Luther memories was against the Washington Redskins and the Lions defense had them inside their own 5-yard line. James Jones grabbed quarterback Brad Johnson and caused a fumble, which Luther picked up and scored a touchdown.
I will always remember that day also because my father came to the game with me and it was raining so hard and it was just plain miserable. The roof of the Pontiac Silverdome was leaking on us as we watched the game.
Luther did one of the funniest TV commercials for the "United Way" that I can remember. He was on a playground with some kids around tunnel slide and he got stuck inside it. And the little girl says, "Mr. Luther is stuck in the slide again." Which Luther replies, "no I'm not."
Luther Elliss and his wife Rebecca have always helped out with local Detroit Charities and are always willing to help out. The Elliss' have big hearts. I have had the privilege to know some of Luther's cousins and they are just as golden as Luther is.
4. Al "Bubba" Baker, Defensive End (1978 to 1982)
Big 6'6" Bubba was the "Freak" (Jevon Kearse) and Dwight Freeney wrapped up in one.
He had size and speed coming out of Colorado State and terrorized quarterbacks in his rookie season, in which he had 23 sacks.
Too bad Al's career in Detroit was only four seasons before playing for St. Louis.
Al went to three pro bowls.
5. Chris Speilman, Linebacker (1988 to 1995)
You talk about a guy that could hit, when Chris went to hit you, not like the current linebackers, you didn't get away. Chris is and was one of the best middle linebackers I have ever seen. He was smart, tough, and knew how to play the position.
I don't know how many times Chris's nose got broken, but you'd see him bloody on the sideline and he'd comeback for more.
You could tell Chris had a real passion for the game.
Chris went to four pro bowls. He should have won the honor all of his years.
6. Rodney Peete, Quarterback (1989 to 1993)
If you told me a sixth-round draft choice would be a starting quarterback I'd say you were crazy. I always liked Rodney. No matter what happened on the field, Rodney always smiled.
Rodney was part of a foursome of quarterbacks with Erik Kramer, Andre Ware and Bob Gagliano.
I don't normally like players out of USC, but Rodney was OK by me.
7. Doug English, Defensive Tackle ( 1975 to 1985)
Good ole number 78. When I played defensive tackle in high school (a brief football career), I wore 78 because of Doug.
Doug was a member of the "Silver Rush" and finished his career with 59 sacks.
8. Herman Moore, Wide Receiver (1991 to 2001)
Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell once said, "he never threw a bad pass to Herman."
Well, when you have big strong hands and are blessed with height and speed, that pretty much sums up why Herman caught so many passes.
Herman was, and always will be the Lions version Jerry Rice. If current Lions receiver Calvin Johnson wants a mentor to take pointers from, he should find the old tapes of Herman in action and look at how he ran routes and caught the ball. He was fun to watch.
9.Lomas Brown, Offensive Tackle (1985 to 1995)
10. Jason Hanson, Kicker (1992 to present day).
Please let me know your all time favorites.