Thank the Detroit Lions For Ensuring Another Great Year Of College Football

James WilliamsonSenior Writer IJanuary 16, 2009

Sam Bradford has just announced that he will not be entering the 2009 NFL draft.

Tim Tebow has announced that he will be going back to Florida for his senior year.

Colt McCoy is staying at the University of Texas for his senior year.

Three quarterbacks are staying away from the NFL Draft. My only question is why?

Sam Bradford has the Heisman Trophy, so he may be staying for the National Title. However, his draft stock is extremely high. He would go into the draft highly coveted and with a handsome paycheck, so is it only the National Title keeping him behind?

Colt McCoy has been, to some people, cheated out of a chance to win the National Title and the Heisman Trophy. So him staying at the University of Texas makes more sense. He was determined to stay, no matter what, from what I could figure out.

Tim Tebow has both the Heisman and the National Championship title. He has a place in the College Football Hall of Fame, so why isn't he going? I doubt it is because he wants to study.

But let's say he is, let's measure it. Take a boring class while buying a ton of books to pay a professor's salary who enjoys being the person in charge and pretends to teach? OR go play professional football and get an eight-figure salary while being surrounded by some of the most gorgeous women, known as cheerleaders?

I'm sorry, but I can't picture any athlete choosing schoolwork over football. Especially not a college athlete.

So why is it?

The answer is so simple! It not only is simple, but I'm kicking myself for not seeing it sooner.


If I had a choice between staying in college and going to play for a team I know is bad, which do you think I would choose?

The Detroit Lions are the only team in the National Football League to ever have an 0-16 record. It just so happens that this year was that magical year for them. They lost every game this season.

It not only is a dead end place to be this year. The Detroit Lions have not won a playoff game since 1991. That is 18 years, people. I was still in a diaper when that happened. "GOO GOO GAGA" was probably all I could say.

Before that, it was 1957. Some of our grandparents were in kindergarten that year. 1957 is also the last year they won the Championship game; this was before the Super Bowl.

The Lions also have a brand new head coach and general manager. That team is in chaos and no young quarterback wants to go into a locker room full of chaos. They are ranked last in rush defense with 172.1 yards allowed per game, and 27th in pass defense with 232.2 yards per game. These quarterbacks want to play against this team, not for them.

One would think that the Lions are cursed, right? Well, guess what? They are!

In 1958 the Detroit Lions traded star quarterback Bobby Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Layne whipped out his finger and said they would not win for 50 years, which became known as the Bobby Layne Curse.

It is January of 2009, and the Lions still have not won. The curse worked. Funny thing is, he shares the same Alma Mater as Colt McCoy. One would say the curse is over so that doesn't mean that they won't win. I respond simply, "Do you think these men want to take that chance?"

The only player that could play for the Detroit Lions and still have an amazing, truly amazing career is Barry Sanders.

These kids are not Barry Sanders. Aside from the obvious differences like position and skin color, look at what Barry Sanders had to do to win with the Lions. He had to stop-start better than any player in NFL history, and he still had the most negative yards ever recorded by a running back.

Barry Sanders was the offense, period. He was the reason they won a playoff game in 1991, and that is a great achievement to overcome that kind of arduous task, but why do it when you can avoid it?

The Lions do not have an offensive line. At least, not yet. This year they allowed 52 quarterback sacks, so would you expect a quarterback to be happy about going there? What do you think a quarterback can do against pressure like that?

This isn't new, though. This is very similar to two quarterbacks and their stances in the draft.

1983 was the year of the quarterback in the NFL. Six quarterbacks were drafted in the first round, including three Hall of Famers: John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino.

The first overall selection went to the Baltimore Colts (this is before they moved to Indianapolis), and their pick was Stanford quarterback John Elway.

But there was one very big problem. Elway didn't want to play for them. He said he would rather play professional baseball than go to a franchise he felt wouldn't be successful. The Colts had to trade him, and Denver got their quarterback while the Colts eventually left Baltimore.

In 2004, the San Diego Chargers had the first overall pick, and they used it to select quarterback Eli Manning out of Ole Miss.

Manning also did not want to play for a team he felt would be unsuccessful, and I suspect he also wanted to stay away from his brother Peyton's conference, so the Chargers traded him to the Giants, where Manning has had great success.

These three quarterbacks are mini-versions of Manning and Elway, except instead of blatantly saying they will not play, they take a subtle approach and stay out of the draft.

I can't honestly blame them either. I wouldn't want to go there. Playing quarterback there is like going into downtown Tehran dressed as Uncle Sam, except over there the pain is swift while Detroit's lasts for a few years.

These three athletes may say that they are staying for different reasons, but even if those reasons are true, I have no doubt they heard voices of people close to them and voices in their head saying, "Detroit Lions, Detroit Lions, Detroit Lions."

Next year will be another fun year in college football and we have the Detroit Lions to thank.

Thank you, Detroit Lions, for another great year of college football.


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