In a sport that’s equally about the game as it is about storylines, the Detroit Lions are living out one of the biggest ones in football — the scrappy underdog.
It’s not a term that’s been used to describe Detroit much this season, but historically it’s how this team is known. Shoot, not just as underdogs, but as an absolutely miserable franchise. So you have one of the only teams to record a winless season, one that’s never been to the Super Bowl in the 90-plus years they’ve been around, playing in a city known for economic hardships. Along comes Dan Campbell, gritty and in-your-face, to lead this poor team to the most success it’s seen in decades.
Then you have the San Francisco 49ers, who boast five Super Bowl titles and have been to the NFC title game three years in a row. The only teams with more Super Bowl wins are the Patriots and the Steelers — they’re basically NFL royalty. Frankly, it’s a storyline where I wouldn’t want to be in the Niners shoes.
USA Today’s Nancy Armour phrased it in such a funny way:
ICYMI There's nothing wrong with the 49ers. They're not cheaters, they're exciting to watch and their players are actually quite likeable.— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) January 24, 2024
But they're not the Lions, and that now makes them the bad guys. https://t.co/aMp2JL21Ay
Anyone who can relate to feeling unlucky or downtrodden in the sports department will likely be on the Lions’ side. In fact, The Athletic’s Steve Buckley penned an article entitled: “Why I’m rooting for the Lions to win one for all the tortured sports franchises.” I’m sure if you look under any post asking fans without a team in the playoffs who they’re cheering on, most will say the Lions. Anyone who has felt their heart ripped out by a team can relate to what Detroit fans have felt for decades and will be rooting for them to overcome mighty, well-decorated San Francisco.
“San Francisco might be the No. 1 seed, but Detroit is the people’s NFC champion,” Armour writes.
I, for one, would not want to be on the other side of that storyline.
And onto the rest of your notes.
- While many Lions fans are digging up the receipts from those who mocked Dan Campbell’s introductory press conference, one Yahoo! Sports analyst is walking back his own “F” grade on Brad Holmes’ 2023 draft class. Freezing cold takes-ing yourself? Props.
- Although the two games will certainly not end the same way, The Guardian’s Dave Caldwell recalls his experience covering the last time the Lions battled it out for the NFC title.
- Speaking of, USA Today’s Jordan Mendoza has a fun look at what the world was like when the Lions last made the NFC Championship, including the top song, top movie, and more.
- In case you missed it on Tuesday, Niners star tight end George Kittle joined “The Pat McAfee Show” and had nothing but good things to say about the Lions. Dang it, they need bulletin board material!
- Should any of you readers be from the Flint area (shoutout to my hometown Davison), you can watch the game on the big screen at the Capitol Theatre on Sunday.
- I personally love smaller newspapers writing about stars that come from that area. Here’s an Akron Beacon Journal article on how John Cominsky, who hails from Barberton, Ohio, and his Lions are one win away from the Super Bowl.
- Checking in on an old friend: