Christmas is just around the corner, so I decided to take a page out of the Christmas Carol and examine the Ghosts of Lions past. Amongst these “ghosts” I will assemble a Detroit Lions All Time Fantasy Team. In the process, we’ll check up on how good of a “fantasy owner” our very own Ebeneezer Scrooge William Clay Ford has been.
The Process: I only considered the best consecutive statistical seasons (generally about five) of former and current Detroit Lions. After calculating the player’s averages per game in a given season, the numbers were converted to fantasy points per game. A standard scoring method was used. And yes, before anyone asks, I realize I’m a massive nerd; I have all of the data to back said claims up. Boy, my mother would be thrilled to see me putting my $30,000 Finance degree to good use.QB Deliberation: While Jon Kitna Shitna was heavily considered here, as he easily scored the best fantasy average out of any Lion’s QB (14.3 PPG), the Born Again was eliminated because he only played two Mike Martz aided seasons in the “D”. Next, we’ll take a look at the big oaf, Scott Mitchell. If Scott’s 1995 campaign stood alone, in which he tossed 32 scores for 4,338 yards (24 PPG) he’d be a shoe-in for the pick. Unfortunately, as most Lions fans know, Mitchell circa ’95 was as real as Milly Vanilly. The genuine Mitchell fumbled every time he got a glimpse of the turf (Fifteen fumbles in 1997. Fifteen!). Sadly, and not too surprisingly, he still scores well higher than rest of the chumps the Lions have ran out to play QB. Mitchell wins by default. (Sidenote: check out the big moves Mitchell’s been making since his retirement!)
The Choice: Scott Mitchell (13.4 PPG)
Honorable Mention: George Plimpton
RB1 Deliberation: My one year old niece would be able to make this selection. This man machine averaged just under 100 yards and a TD per game, all while rushing behind a line that would’ve made the Little Giants’ offensive line look like Pro-bowlers. Although flair won’t score you points on the fantasy gridiron, the statistics speak for themselves; the best ball carrier in the history of the game is a no brainer.
The Choice: RB1= His Holiness, Saint Sanders (13.7 PPG)
RB2 Deliberation: The other #20 is the obvious and only choice here. After Sanders and Sims, no running back in Lions’ history has had double digit rushing touchdowns for more than one season.
The Choice: RB2= Billy Sims (11.5 PPG)
WR1 Deliberation: The first wide receiver spot goes to one of the most consistent and underrated wide receivers ever to step foot on an NFL field. His 123 receptions in 1995 is the second most of all time. I can’t even fathom how many balls he would’ve snagged with a respectable quarterback, and an offensive line that wasn’t downright offensive.
The Choice: WR1= Herman Moore (11.5 PPG)
WR2 Deliberation: Over the course of his relatively short career, the selection for this spot caught 227 balls (11th all time in Lion’s History) for 3,810 and 35 scores. Oh, and he led the Lions to a Championship victory in his rookie season. Although that counts for squat in this calculation, it’s not something you get to say very often ever. Some may be surprised at the pick, but the statistics speak for themselves.
The Choice: WR2= Terry Barr (10.2 PPG)
Honorable Mention: Roy Williams (9.5 PPG), Gale Cogdill (9.2 PPG)
Note: Calvin Johnson locked in at 8.7 PPG.
TE Deliberation: The player selected at TE for the All-Time team lined up at fullback the majority of the time, but he played snaps at TE as well, thus making him eligible at the position on my imaginary team.
The Choice: TE= James R. Jones (11.3 PPG)
K Deliberation: Sadly, the most heated battle for the All-Time Team came down to the kicker position. If there is one position the Lion’s have been blessed, it’s at the kicker spot (I better knock on wood- Stan Kwan’s stupidity is next to legendary). The battle for this spot came down to two well known Lions.
The Choice: K= Eddie Murray (6.9 PPG)
Honorable Mention: Jason Hanson (6.3 PPG)
DEF Deliberation: The next time I witness the Detroit Lions make a play on defense will be the first. However, if you go back to the 1950’s, they actually had a pretty darn good one. Imagine that. In 1952, Dick “Night Train” Lane recorded an NFL record 14 interceptions. Their defense, which included three future Hall of Famers, led them to four NFL Championship games during the decade. Of course, after WCF bought the team in ’64, he slowly eradicated any notion of defense within the organization. He is famously quoted mumbling, “Tacklin’!? You don’t need no tacklin’ in the game of foolsball!” As such, Ford has continually forgot to “set his lineup” by neglecting to play a DEF unit.
The Choice: EMPTY
Conclusion: Not surprisingly, William Clay Ford’s All-Time Fantasy Squad performs eerily similar to the actual on field product, averaging a measly 78 PPG. Yet, we Lions fans Bob Cratchits of the world maintain our loyalty and continue to put up with the abuse of the tyrannical boss, William Clay Ford Ebenezer Scrooge. In the cast of classic holiday stories, it looks as if the Lions will be forcing me to play the Grinch yet again this Christmas.