In honor of Rivalry Week at SB Nation, it’s time to look at some of the biggest villains Detroit Lions fans have ever known. There are many reasons for the Lions’ futility over the past six decades—most of them self-inflicted wounds, of course—but there have been a handful of players that just seemed to be a thorn in this franchise’s side.
This list will not feature any Lions players, owners, managers or coaches, even though you could easily make the case that someone like Matt Millen was this team’s biggest villain. This will also not feature any officials, because this website and fanbase don’t need another whiny, self-loathing article about how the Lions have been screwed by the refs over the years. Sure, it’s true, but at some point we have to get over it and admit the Lions haven’t been bad simply because of a handful of bad calls.
So without further ado, here our list of Biggest Villains to the Detroit Lions franchise.
5. Paul Edinger
Back in 2000, Bears kicker Paul Edinger was a rookie with hopes of having a long career in the NFL. A sixth-round draft pick, Edinger was off to a modest career going into the season finale. He was 18-of-24 for a solid but unspectacular 75 percent accuracy. He hadn’t attempted a kick over 50 yards and was a mere 6-for-10 from 40-49 yards.
But in the finale, as a member of the 4-11 Chicago Bears facing off against the win-and-you’re-in 9-6 Detroit Lions, Edinger had the game of his life.
In the second quarter of the game, Edinger set a career record with a 50-yarder to pull the Bears within four.
Two quarters later, Edinger would line up from 54 yards away with seven seconds remaining in a tie game. He made it, sending the Lions home without a playoff berth and giving the Bears a completely meaningless win.
For the rest of Edinger’s career, he would only make one field goal longer than that one.
Oh, it happened on Christmas eve, too.
Most evil moment: Gave the Lions Matt Millen
As if playing spoiler to the Lions wasn’t enough, this loss triggered a change in general managers for the Detroit Lions. Gone was Chuck Schmidt. In came Matt Millen. We all know what happened next. Way to go, Paul.
4. Jay Cutler
Unlike Edinger, Cutler wasn’t responsible for any franchise-defining moment. Heck, there really isn’t a significant loss that Cutler ever handed Detroit. But he was just one of those guys that was so unlikable from the moment the Bears traded for him in 2009.
It wasn’t anything he said. It wasn’t anything he did on the field. He played a little better against the Lions than he did against other teams, but it wasn’t like he was Lions Killer:
Cutler’s career stats: 62.0 completion %, 7.1 Y/A, 227 TDs, 160 INTs, 85.3 passer rating
Stats vs. Lions: 62.6 completion %, 7.3 Y/A, 20 TDs, 11 INTs, 89.4 passer rating
Cutler was basically that annoying cousin you had that you hated seeing twice a year. Sure, he was harmless, but you just didn’t like having him around for some unclear reason.
Most evil moment: Somehow drew a penalty with this
Cutler doesn’t really have any Lions dream-crushing moments. He went just 7-7 against the Lions in his career. But the reason Cutler remains a villain to Detroit is that he was just simply annoying. He made annoying faces. He did annoying things like shove Ezekiel Ansah for no real reason.
And while this shove from Ndamukong Suh that drew a penalty (and a fine!) is not Cutler’s fault exactly, it’s still really, really annoying. So it’s only fitting that he was the one that drew the flag.
3. Jared Allen
Jared Allen sucks.
He absolutely killed the Lions. Of his 136 career sacks, 18.5 came against the Lions. While that may not seem like much, it’s more than against any other team. Also things he did more to the Lions than any other team:
- Solo tackles: 45
- Tackles for loss: 23
- QB hits: 25
- Interceptions: 1 (tied)
- Forced fumbles: 5
- Touchdowns: 2
- Receiving touchdowns (??!?!): 1
He was also a pretty big jerk while he did it. He once got in a fight with Gosder Cherilus and Shaun Hill (see: 5:40 mark here) that ended with him saying, “I don’t like anybody from Detroit” in the postgame.
And it was his dumb face we had to see when Dan Orlovsky ran out of the endzone.
Most evil moment: “If I had to live in Detroit, I think I’d just drown myself in the river”
It’s one thing to be a menace on the field. It’s another to be a downright asshole to an entire city. Maybe this was Allen just playing heel and joking around, but this comment blew up amongst Detroit fans and have made Allen a permanent villain. The fact that he followed up that sentence with, “I’m not trying to be mean,” shows how clueless he unempathetic he really is.
Jared Allen sucks.
2. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback the Lions have ever had to regularly face. It’s really not even that close. Just look at some of these stats vs. the Lions:
- 15-5 record
- 41:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio
- 104.7 passer rating
- 7.9 yards per attempt
Rodgers has dominated the Lions since assuming the job in Green Bay and he hasn’t really relented. And all the while, he’s done it in that smug fashion that you just love to hate. Whether it’s the title belt celebration, his stupid State Farm commercials or that absurd porno mustache, there’s just nothing likable about Aaron Rodgers. Throw in a couple of screwjobs, and you have the perfect Lions villain.
The only reason Rodgers isn’t No. 1 on our list is because the Lions weren’t unique to Rodgers’ reign of terror. In fact, you could make an argument the Lions have gotten off the easiest among NFC North foes.
vs. Lions: 15-5 record, 64.3 completion %, 7.9 Y/A, 41 TDs, 8 INTs, 104.7 passer rating
vs. Bears: 18-5 record, 66.0 completion %, 7.5 Y/A, 47 TDs, 10 INTs, 104.0 passer rating
vs. Vikings: 14-8-1 record, 67.7 completion %, 7.8 Y/A, 43 TDs, 7 INts, 107.2 passer rating
Rodgers isn’t just the Lions’ villain. He’s everyone’s villain.
Most evil moment: The Hail Mary
You know it. You hate it. I won’t torture you with the video or even a link or description. It happened. Let’s move on.
1. Brett Favre
Brett Favre went 26-9 against the Detroit Lions over his career. Do I really need to say anything else? Up until 2016, that was the most wins from a single quarterback against a single team.
The Lions never beat Brett Favre in Lambeau. NEVER.
Hey, but at least the Lions sacked him more than any other team.
Most evil moment: Favre to Sharpe to win the Wild Card
Don’t watch this. Please don’t watch this.
It was the 1993 playoffs. The Lions had beaten the Packers just six days before to ensure home-field advantage in the Wild Card round of the postseason.
After a Derrick Moore 5-yard run put the Lions up 24-21 in the fourth quarter, Brett Favre took the ball in his hands. With 55 seconds left, Favre uncorked a bomb down the right sideline to a wide-open Sterling Sharpe to take the lead for good. Favre would put on the theatrics that would annoy Lions fans for the next 17 years.
Meanwhile, the Lions haven’t won or even hosted a playoff game since.