By: Will Burchfield
When Glover Quin signed with the Lions after spending his first four seasons in the NFL with the Houston Texas, he immediately felt like an underdog.
“When you come to Detroit, it’s weird, it’s weird how it is. It’s really Detroit versus everybody,” Quin said. “It seems like with national attention and national media and just national everything, I feel like Detroit always gets the back burner.
“Even when we’re playing well, it’s always something. When we lose a game it’s always, “They’re the worst team.’”
Quin acknowledged that the Lions have their own history to thank for their grim reputation. The franchise has never played in the Super Bowl and hasn’t won a playoff game in 25 years.
“I mean in this league, to me, it’s just all about winning, and historically Detroit hasn’t won very often. So I guess it’s one of the things that we have to do on our end, is continue to win. And when we win, we’ll let the pieces fall where they may,” Quin said.
The Lions have been winning of late, with victories in three straight games. They are 4-3 heading into a Week 8 road clash with Quin’s former team. The veteran safety feels the team’s long list of doubters is bringing the players together and fueling their success.
“I think it’s a good mentality for us here in Detroit, to feel like it’s us against everybody. I think that puts a chip on your shoulder and I think we’ve relished in that role of like, ‘Hey man, nobody really believes in us but us.’ So we gotta fight for each other and we gotta fight for what we believe in,” said Quin.
Tahir Whitehead, who has spent his five-year career entirely with the Lions, feels the same way.
“That’s the attitude you really have to have, because we’re all we’ve got at the end of the day,” he said. “When we’re on that field, the coaching staff, the players, down to the equipment guys, the trainers, we’re the ones that gotta take care of each other.
“Yeah, it’s good to have the fans behind you but at the end of the day, the fans aren’t down there playing. So definitely, we have that Detroit-versus-everyone mentality as a team.”
Like Quin, Whitehead understands the skepticism and doubt cast upon the Lions is a product of their past.
“How can you expect someone to count you in when you’ve been out for a while? So we just dismiss it,” he said. “We just go out there and keep battling and at the end of the day (if) we take care of our business in due time, then people are going to start to mention us in the talks of good football teams.”
Matthew Stafford, whose personal profile continues to rise, knows the team’s will do the same if the Lions keep winning.
“You are who you are in this league. If you play well, you’re counted in, if you play poorly, you’re counted out. So it’s on us to just continue to play well,” he said.
Stafford’s backup, Dan Orlovsky, is in his second stint with the Lions. In his first one, the team went 15-49 over four seasons, culminating in an 0-16 finish in 2008. This time around, Orlovsky senses a tight-knit group with a laser-like focus.
“I think that this team is very focused on the now and I think it does a good job of trusting themselves, trusting each other, trusting the staff,” he said. “I know it’s a cliché, but it’s got a very good vibe of everyone-in-it-versus-everyone-else. It’s not even 53 players, it’s not just the offense or the defense, it’s not just one unit, I think it’s all of us, our players and our staff, everybody’s on board with the same mindset and I think we all trust in each other.”
The Lions have a long way to go in changing their losing reputation. To a man, they know this. But like the city they represent, they’re hoping to put the past behind them.
“This city is headed for great turnaround so it would be great to be a part of it,” said Kerry Hyder. “If we’re winning games, the city’s enthusiastic, the city’s all in, it brings nothing but joy.”