Things Are Heating Up. It’s Round 3 Of The Tournament.
Welcome back. If you’ve missed any previous rounds of the tournament, they can be found right HERE. It’s time for the “Sweet 16” of the all-time favorite Lions tournament. First, an overview of what the brackets look like after round 2.
Tournament Quick Thoughts
- Wide receivers are doing very well so far, filling 5 of the final 16 slots in the tournament.
- Defensive players have struggled to win their matchups. Only 5 remain compared to 10 offensive players. The lone specialist being kicker Jason Hanson.
- Older players continue to fall by the wayside. None of the remaining players were active earlier than 1980. Additionally, 5 of the remaining players are on the active roster. This may be recency bias, but it’s hard to love a player if you didn’t see them play.
- There were two different ties in round 2. Dominic Raiola advanced past Jeff Backus thanks to a twitter poll showdown to break an exact tie. DeAndre Levy was able to squeak past Johnnie Morton by exactly 1 vote that still appeared as a 50/50 split percentage-wise.
- Four matchups this round are between players that play/ed the same position. LBs, WRs x2, RBs. Time to make some tough decisions…
Lomas Brown vs Calvin Johnson
Lomas Brown (’85-’95) may be the best offensive lineman in Lions history. He was named to the Pro Bowl 6 times in his 11 seasons as a Lion. An eventual Super Bowl champion with the Bucs in 2002, Brown was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018. While he wasn’t selected as an inductee this time around, he’s on the doorstep to Canton.
Calvin Johnson (’07-’15) needs no introduction. The man known as Megatron rocked the football world with his highlight reel catches and dominant physical abilities. His short career left fans wanting more, but what they did get was unlike anything before him.
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Both players are among the stars of the defense the Lions will be fielding in 2018. Slay is coming off an All-Pro + Pro Bowl season. Ansah, a Pro Bowl selection in 2015, is coming off his second best statistical year with 12 sacks. Both need to perform for the Lions to win on the field, but who is the more popular player?
Dominic Raiola vs Jason Hanson
Raiola (’01-’14) was with the Lions for the darkest of times. The model of consistency, he played in all 16 games in 12 of his 14 seasons. His take no prisoners attitude was appreciated by many fans, and his first playoff appearance after 10 years of futility was a feel-good story around the NFL in 2011.
Hanson (’92-’12) tore through the record books in his 21 seasons with Detroit. 4th on the NFL all-time scoring list, Hanson was the career leader in 50+ yard FGs made for a stint until being dethroned by Sebastian Janikowski in 2016. His career 82% success rate was a luxury Lions fans enjoyed for more than two decades.
DeAndre Levy vs Chris Spielman
Two of the best linebackers in Lions history square off in a new school vs old school matchup. The two #54s meet here.
Levy (’09-’16) was a force in his prime years before injuries derailed his career. Paired with Ndamukong Suh in the 2014 season, Levy led the Lions to a top tier defensive season for the first time in decades. Levy had major playmaking ability and seemed to be around the ball at all times. The Lions are still trying to recover from his departure.
Spielman (’88-’95) spent 8 fantastic seasons as the leader in the middle of Detroit’s defense. He chalked up 100+ tackles in 7 of those seasons and was selected to the pro-bowl in four of them. His toughness and dedication are impossible to dispute. He started in 124 of 128 possible games in his time with the Lions, not something that’s easy to do as a middle linebacker.
Glover Quin vs Matthew Stafford
Stafford and Quin are presently the veteran leaders of the Lions offensive and defensive units. Both former pro bowlers have been as reliable as they come. Neither has missed a start in over 7 seasons. Quin is the active leader for consecutive starts by a safety. Stafford is 3rd in the same category for quarterbacks. The value each provides to their respective side of the ball cannot be overstated. The Lions are lucky to have both, but one has to go this round.
Brett Perriman vs Nate Burleson
The first wide receiver duel. This may be the one I’m most curious to see the results of, personally.
Perriman (’91-’96) was part of the high flying offense the Lions boasted in the mid-’90s. In 1995, he and Herman Moore became the first receiving duo in NFL history to each snag over 100 receptions in a single season. To this day, his 1,488 receiving yards is still the 5th highest single-season output in Lions history. He trails only 3 different Calvin Johnson seasons and one by Moore in that same year.
Burleson (’10-’13) was never a statistical juggernaut playing second fiddle opposite Calvin Johnson. He is likely the least accomplished player left in the tournament if it were based on football accolades alone. What he brought to the Lions was heart, grit, and leadership. During his 4 year stint with the Lions, Burleson was an unquestioned team leader. He’s one of the most vocal athletes to ever represent Detroit, and he does it in a way that makes all Detroit fans proud.
Herman Moore vs Golden Tate
Another wide receiver duel. This is the equivalent to the Levy/Spielman vote earlier. One of today’s favorites against a past legend at the same position.
Moore (’91-’01) enjoyed 4 straight pro bowl seasons in the mid-’90s, 3 of which also came with All-Pro accolades. In addition to the accomplishments mentioned earlier in Perriman’s section, Moore set the NFL record in the 1995 campaign for most receptions in a season with 123. That record would hold for 7 years until Marvin Harrison broke it in 2002. Currently, Moore is 2nd in most Lions receiving statistics, trailing only Calvin Johnson in the major categories.
Golden Tate is one of the best free agent signings the Lions have ever made. Since joining the Lions in 2014 Tate has averaged over 1,00 yards and 90 receptions per season. He’s been particularly good at making big plays in the most clutch of moments and his open-field elusiveness has been at the elite level for years. A danger to go the distance any time he touches the ball, it’s no wonder why Lions fans have quickly fallen in love.
Billy Sims vs Barry Sanders
It’s somewhat poetic that these two should meet head to head. A battle of running backs that both wore #20.
Sims (’80-’84) took the league by storm his first two seasons, combining for 2,740 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns with 5 more through the air to start his career. He was selected to the pro bowl in his first three seasons. Unfortunately, injuries would add up quickly and he never played a full season again. Don’t kid yourself though, this man was electric. When he was good, he was great. And I know several people who became Lions fans because Billy Sims hooked them. He’s one of the true “what if” guys in the NFL history books.
Sanders (’89-’98) is known by some simply as the GOAT. The style of running was like that which had never been witnessed before. His ability to take a 5-yard loss and turn it into a 1-yard gain was marveling. And just as quickly, a 2 yard gain could bust for 80 out of nowhere. Watching highlights of Barry Sanders is something I never get tired of even if I’ve seen them all dozens of times. His hall of fame caliber stats and accolades are staggering, and he’d almost surely win the tournament if it were based on who was indeed the “best” player to ever dawn a Lions uniform.
This round of votes will close Saturday, June 30 at 11:59 pm.
Check back for results and full commentary on the next round soon here on DLP.