Twitter can be a fun place to discuss TV, sports and just about anything your little heart desires. It can also be the worst version of all of those things. An echo chamber, a divisive tool, a hellscape for trolls and instigators alike.
But let’s focus on the positive for a second. It’s not easy to come up with a Question of the Day for every single day of the year, yet we’ve done it nearly for two straight years now. Now that we’re straight in the middle of the offseason void, it’s the hardest time of year to come up with said questions.
Thankfully, Joe Rivera of the Sporting News proposed an interesting question on Twitter that sparked a ton of conversations. Today, I shamelessly steal his question and propose it to you:
Who's the one former player on your favorite team who you wish spent his entire career there?— Joe (@JoeRiveraSN) May 18, 2018
Which former Lions player do you wish spent his entire career in Detroit?
My answer: The first, most obvious answer is Bobby Layne. The three-time NFL Champion was traded just a year after the Lions’ third championship in the 1950s, and is said to have cursed the team until... well, until today. Though his career didn’t continue on the same trajectory with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he would be an easy answer to this question.
However, for the younger folks in the audience, I’m going to go with a more modern answer. I still think about what this team could have looked like had they retained Cliff Avril in 2013.
Avril’s career was entering his prime when his contract expired with Detroit. He was coming off of 8.5, 11.0 and 9.5 sack seasons, looking for a big payday. The Lions, having used the franchise tag on him in 2012, were unable to come to a long-term deal with defensive end. Avril reported that they didn’t really even offer him a contract in free agency, despite the fact that they proposed a three-year, $30 million contract during negotiations the year prior.
So Avril ended up signing a modest contract with the Seattle Seahawks, and his career continued to thrive over the next four seasons. Avril immediately won a Super Bowl with Seattle and saw the team make the playoffs in every season but last year.
Meanwhile, we’re left to wonder what a Lions team with Avril would’ve looked like. Can you imagine how dominant the Lions’ top-five defense from 2014 would’ve been with Avril on it, too? That Lions team, which should have won a playoff game in Dallas, could have been even more impressive and possibly made a legitimate, deep run in the playoffs.
And since Avril left for Seattle, the Lions have really struggled to find a reliable edge rusher. Though Avril’s career appears to be done right now, he could’ve helped solve that problem for the past few years, and it’s hard not to constantly think about that.
It doesn’t help that Avril has proven to be a great person off the field, too. He has his own charity aimed to raise awareness for Type 2 diabetes. He has helped build schools in Haiti, and he was a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2016. The Detroit community would’ve benefitted from his presence.