Same old Lions

Burleson’s broken arm proves the curse continues

By Evan Paputa
Sports Editor

When the words “Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson breaks arm in single car crash around 2:30 a.m. on Detroit freeway” ran across the Sports Center ticker around 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 24, I wondered how someone could crash a car on a desolate highway.

Upon further investigation, police found that the accident was not caused by alcohol, drugs, or texting. Rather, an innocent pizza was to blame.

As Burleson was driving westbound on I-696 near Drake Road in Farmington Hills on his way home from a Monday Night Football party with his teammates, a pizza was gracefully falling from the front seat to the floor.

What is forgotten in the fluke broken arm is that Burleson was just a day removed from the best performance of his four-year Detroit career with six catches for 116 yards against the Washington Redskins.

There was a greater force at play than just pizza, in this one-of-a-kind and true-blue-Lions scenario.

Losing since 1958

When the Lions traded quarterback Bobby Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958, Layne so-called cursed the Lions. Layne went on to say that the Lions would not win for 50 years.

Not only was he right on the money, the curse appears to have extended itself five years past its expiration in 2008.

In 1970, the abysmal New Orleans Saints lined up for a 63-yard field goal in the waning seconds of their game against the Lions.

Tom Dempsey (5-15 on field goals on the season) booted the NFL record 63 yarder as well as three other field goals on the day to defeat the Lions.

In 1988, the Lions were forced to punt from their 14-yard-line and, before the snap, one of the Saints called the Lions code word for a fake punt.

Without recognizing who made the call, Lions punter Jim Arnold threw a less than decent pass to rookie wide receiver Carl Painter as he was running down the field on coverage.

The pass hit Painter in the helmet and fell harmlessly to the ground. The Saints went on to win the game as they successfully bent the Lions will.

A month before his tenth NFL season in 1999, Barry Sanders, arguably one of the best running backs in NFL history, announced his retirement after a nine-year career with the Lions. Sanders surprised everyone with the retirement that came just two years into a new six-year contract, paying him $35.4 Million with an $11 Million signing bonus.

On a blustery late November day in 2002, the Lions gave up a fourth quarter lead on the road against the Bears that forced overtime. With the NFL’s sudden death format, winning the coin flip normally meant choosing to receive the kick.

Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg opted to give the Bears the ball after winning the toss because of wind conditions. The Bears scored on the opening possession to bury the Lions.

Remember Joey Harrington? After the Lions traded the team’s number three overall pick from 2002 and expected savior to the Miami Dolphins, Harrington got his revenge when he led his Dolphins to a 27-10 Thanksgiving victory in 2006 at Detroit.

Although 2008 brought hope, the Lions fell to NFL futility and went winless. Their 0-16 season was the worst single-season performance in NFL history.

Year in and year out, Lions fans can be heard saying “this is the year,” but as each season progresses, the curse finds new ways to bubble to the surface.

Just as this year’s Lions appeared to be in route to the playoffs, Burleson put his season in jeopardy when reaching for a falling pizza.

Unfortunately, only time will tell if this curse will ever be reversed.