By: Jamie Samuelsen
On Monday’s show, as we were discussing Lions running back Mikel Leshoure and his latest marijuana-related scrap with the police – Wojo unearthed the “Curse of Barry Sanders”. We all know about the Curse of Bobby Layne. The Lions basically have had a whole load of nothing at the quarterback position since Layne last played the position. But once Matthew Stafford eclipsed the 5000-yard mark last season and drove the Lions into the playoffs, the curse appears to be over.
But has the Curse of Barry Sanders only just begun?
Sanders retired on the eve of the 1999 season, leaving the Lions and their fans grasping for answers. Since the draft and free agency had already passed, head coach Bobby Ross had no choice but to hand the carries over to the dynamic duo of Ron Rivers and Greg Hill. That didn’t work so well. Since then, the Lions have had just two 1000-yard rushing seasons (James Stewart in 2000 and 2002).
The rest of the picture isn’t all that pretty. Here’s the list of Lions running backs since Barry retired. Feel free to choose up a fantasy team from this bunch. It won’t go so well.
Some have been hurt (Jones, Best). Some were drafted hurt (Staley, Pinner). Some stole luggage (Bell – allegedly). Most just weren’t very good.
During that time, the Lions are one of only four NFL teams not to send at least one running back to the Pro Bowl. The others are the Raiders, Browns and Cardinals. Not exactly great company there, eh?
Here’s a list of the Pro Bowl backs and their teams since 1999.
Atlanta – Warrick Dunn, Michael Turner
Baltimore – Jamal Lewis, Willis McGahee, Ray Rice
Buffalo – Travis Henry, Marshawn Lynch
Carolina – Stephen Davis
Chicago – Matt Forte
Cincinnati – Corey Dillon, Rudi Johnson
Dallas – Emmitt Smith, Marion Barber
Denver – Clinton Portis
Green Bay – Ahman Green
Houston – Arian Foster
Indianapolis – Edggerin James, Joseph Addai
Jacksonville – Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew
Kansas City – Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, Jamaal Charles
Miami – Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown
Minnesota – Robert Smith, Michael Bennett, Adrian Peterson
New England – Corey Dillon
New Orleans – Deuce McAllister
New York Giants – Tiki Barber
New York Jets – Curtis Martin, Thomas Jones
Philadelphia – Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy
Pittsburgh – Jerome Bettis, Willie Parker
St. Louis – Marshall Faulk, Stephen Jackson
San Diego – LaDanian Tomlinson, Ryan Mathews
San Francisco – Charlie Garner, Garrison Hearst, Frank Gore
Seattle – Shaun Alexander, Marshawn Lynch
Tampa Bay – Warrick Dunn
Tennessee – Eddie George, Chris Johnson
Washington – Stephen Davis, Clinton Portis
Sanders was in Ford Field last year for the Monday Night game when Best had his greatest night as a Lion. He was lost for the season a couple of weeks later.
So we’re not sure what Sanders can do to lift the curse, but we beg of him, please take action. With Best coming off three concussions in three years, Smith coming off injuries galore and Leshoure coming back from an Achilles injury and two pot episodes – it seems that the Curse of Barry Sanders is alive and well.