By Will Burchfield
The Chicago Cubs put an end to 108 years of misery on Wednesday night, winning the World Series for the first time since 1908. Theirs was the longest championship drought, by far, of any professional sports team in the U.S. In breaking it, the Cubs passed the baton of torture to the Arizona Cardinals, who last won an NFL championship in 1947, 69 years ago.
The Lions aren’t far behind.
They now own the fourth longest championship drought in professional American sports, behind the Cardinals, the Cleveland Indians and the Sacramento Kings. The Lions, as most fans could tell you, haven’t won an NFL championship since 1957. And 59 years ago, it wasn’t even called the Super Bowl.
So, is it the Lions’ time? With the Cubs having proved that even the most tortured teams find deliverance, that even the driest deserts experience rain, is it possible, somehow, someway, that the Lions are next? And are we jinxing it further by having the discussion? Yeah, probably.
But if the cosmically-cursed Cubs can win, defying the Billy Goat and Steve Bartman and their own “Lovable Losers” identity in the process, then, c’mon, anyone can.
Will the Lions be the next championship-starved team to win it all? Our experts weigh in.
“Are the Lions due? Of course they’re due. Overdue. Past due. But the longer you wait doesn’t necessarily shorten the odds.
“As much as Lions fans hunger for it and deserve it, I don’t think their 59-year championship drought is the next to be broken. (Sorry!). Here are the lengthy droughts in each sport I expect to be broken before the Lions pull it off:
NFL – Philadelphia Eagles, currently at 56 years
MLB – Houston Astros, currently at 53 years
NBA – Washington Wizards, currently at 37 years
NHL – St. Louis Blues, currently at 45 years
Better luck next year. And the next year. And the next year ….”
Do I think so? No.
If I were to pick an NFL team I would pick the Cardinals as the organization most likely to break a drought. Closer now.
Or the Toronto Maple Leafs. Great coach. Willing to spend. Traditional Canadian franchise that would appeal to native Canadian free agents – I think they will get good real soon.
No. Maple Leafs, Cardinals, Indians, and Los Angeles Clippers all will win before the Lions do. However, I now believe a little that the Lions might eventually get there.
No. Sorry. They won’t be. They will never win it.
It’s hard to argue with any of the preceding forecasts, expect maybe the last one. Maybe. The Lions haven’t sniffed a championship since 1957, winning just one playoff game in that 59-year span. Moreover, they aren’t an especially promising team in the present nor does the future look exceptionally bright.
Remember – this is the NFL we’re talking about. Teams don’t have farm systems. They can’t point to a loaded prospect pool – the way the Cubs could have five years ago – and claim things are about to turn around. Projecting the future is a far messier task in the NFL than it is in any other major American sport. That’s partly why Lions’ fans fall so reflexively on the past.
But the hope around this team is that a new front office, guided by first-year general manager Bob Quinn, will bring about new results. Quinn was groomed in the New England Patriots organization, where he may have learned a thing or two about winning. If he can apply those lessons in Detroit, the Lions stand to benefit immensely. It’s been quite some time since they had a savvy football mind leading the way.
Take another look at the Cubs. The move that made possible Wednesday night’s drama was one the organization made five years ago. It had nothing to do with a player or a coach – except, of course, everything. In 2011, the Cubs hired general manager Theo Epstein to assemble a winner. His name wouldn’t appear on the roster, but his fingerprints would be all over it.
And that’s why the Lions hired Quinn. He’s a young, forward-thinking GM who comes from an organization with tons of recent success. Sound familiar? He’s no Epstein obviously (not yet, at least), but the similarities are worth noting. If the Lions are ever to join the Cubs in championship salvation, it will be Quinn who shows them the way.