By Jason Bushen
The “post-Barry generation” of Lions fans hasn’t had much to cheer for. We have suffered through more than most fan-bases do in a lifetime, and the following names will likely trigger emotional responses that are better off being repressed: Matt Millen, Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, Marty Morhinweg, Steve Mariucci, Rod Marinelli–the list goes on. We endured the “perfect” season, watching the only team in NFL history go 0-16. We’ve broken television remotes, yelled at inanimate objects, and have been the punch-line to countless jokes.
Insert general manager Martin Mayhew.
The man has quickly become a hero to Lions fans here in the great state of Michigan. After hiring head coach Jim Schwartz (a defensive mastermind), Mayhew seemed to have a focus on finding players with a “motor”. And after years of anguish, the Motor City finally has something to cheer about.
He has already drafted more quality players in his short tenure than his predecessor did in seven years. What Millen failed to realize is that drafting in the NFL is about talent evaluation and character judgment. It’s about drafting to bolster your offensive and defensive lines, being patient, and drafting to win football games–not to sell tickets. Matt Stafford, Brandon Pettigrew, Ndamukong Suh, and Jahvid Best are players who will be the foundation for a winning formula for years to come.
Name Matt Millen’s biggest free-agent signing. Keep thinking. Exactly. What has Mayhew done to acquire players? He has traded for Cory Williams, Rob Sims, Chris Houston, Lawrence Jackson, and Eric Wright. In free-agency, he has stockpiled Kyle Vanden Bosch, Nate Burleson, Stephen Tulloch, and Justin Durant. Putting all of these puzzle pieces together has created the most bittersweet picture.
That picture is the Detroit Lions being 3-0. Looking dominant at times, we are no longer the defeated. We are undefeated. Whether it’s Matthew Stafford (insert injury disclaimer) and Calvin Johnson on pace to break records, Ndamukong Suh eating quarterbacks, or Jason Hanson being an ageless wonder–the buzz around Michigan is the success of our NFL team.
No one is laughing at Lions fans now. And it’s all possible thanks to Martin Mayhew.