Ndamukong Suh, Nate Burleson and the 2010 Lions 'Exorcising Demons'
If you haven't heard yet, the Detroit Lions are making some noise on NFL Network's "Total Access."
First it was Defensive Rookie of the Year, Ndamukong Suh, who took to the set on March 7th and announced that the Lions could go 16-0 this season as long as they kept up their work ethic. Then the veteran wideout, Nate Burleson, followed up with an interview of his own just one month later on April 6th.
Burleson may have been more cautious about saying that the Lions could go undefeated this year but what he did say was equally important for Lions fans to hear. Burleson identified obstacles the Lions had eradicated in order to cement themselves as a team who had learned how to win.
Burleson stated simply that Detroit "definitely exorcised some demons this year."
For the viewers who might not have been as familiar with which "demons" he was referring to, Burleson was kind enough to enumerate them. As a Lions fan, I spoke them aloud right along with Burleson.
The "demons" the Detroit Lions finally "exorcised" were two-fold. The first one was settled on a beautiful Dec. 12 afternoon when the Lions beat the Packers at home. This snapped a 19 game in-division NFC North losing streak.
It was good to finally have that one off the shoulders of the Lions and what better team to end it with than the later-to-be Super Bowl champions themselves.
On this day, many of the Lions faithful went to the ER believing they may be experiencing a heart attack, only to be turned away and told, "that is pure joy you are feeling, Mr. Smith. No medical intervention is needed. Let's just hope you have reason to get used to it."
OK, I have nothing to substantiate that comment except to say I know that is how I was feeling as I watched my Lions snap that horrible streak.
The second "demon" was a record 26 consecutive losses on the road. The seventh day after the win against Green Bay turned out to be another memorable one. The Lions finally snapped their road loss record by defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
"Mr. Smith are you still with us? Once again, it is just joy and happiness you are feeling."
It would only get better when the Lions rounded the season out with four consecutive wins.
Suh and Burleson may have had slightly different takes on how the Lions brought hope back to Detroit, but they agreed on one thing: This is not the same old Lions team. That sentiment itself feels like another demon being exorcised.
It doesn't stop there, at least for this Lions fan.
When is the last time you can remember the Detroit Lions getting two interviews on the NFL Network for something positive? If this does not speak to where the NFL believes the Lions are heading, I don't know what does.
Our players are getting air time and it's not to explain what they think went wrong with the season! The Lions had a 6-10 record and yet it seems the NFL television analysts can feel exactly what the Lions faithful have been feeling since the final games of last season.
It doesn't just stop with the NFL analysts either. The Lions are being considered for a Monday Night prime time game. I almost feel like I need to say it again, but you get the point. We might actually be liked by the NFL and by viewers who want to bear witness to the Detroit turnaround.
Too much pressure?
Let's go back to Suh saying the Lions can win all 16 games and Burleson stating that they should have had a record of 11-5 last season (he stated that there were at least five games they should have won but didn't). If Burleson believes that they could have been a 11-5 team without Stafford, imagine what he truly believes they can do this season with Stafford.
In fact, during the same interview, Burleson said he believes quarterback Matthew Stafford can be the breakout player of 2011 if he stays healthy, and that defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh “can go down as one of the most powerful defensive threats ever to play the game.”
Burleson also noted Stafford will be surrounded by the right players this season.
Both Suh and Burleson have led me to believe that we have a team that has learned how to win. With explosive young talent and well-schooled veteran players, Detroit has become legitimate.
The Detroit Lions deserve the positive attention they are getting right now. They are a team that has exorcised demons and believe they can be that winning franchise we have waited so long to see.
When the Lions begin putting together winning records and get back to the playoffs and then the Super Bowl, they will have put one more demon to rest. The 50-year "curse of Bobby Layne."
For those not familiar with this "curse," Bobby Layne was a QB for the Detroit Lions who was traded in 1958. Though there is nothing officially in the records, it was said that he was so angry about being traded that he "cursed" the Lions to not have a winning season for 50 years.
The time of the "curse" should have been over in 2008. Interestingly, in 2009 a young QB by the name of Matthew Stafford was drafted by the Detroit Lions. Stafford went to Highland Park School, the same high school as Layne. He also lived in a house on the same street as Layne's.
Now that is a little spooky.
However, with all of the demon exorcising experience the Lions have, I think this just might be the group of guys to bring any thought of what Bobby Layne may have said to its final resting place.
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