Detroit Lions

Sunset on Mackinac

Stephanie of Stephanie Stevens Photography recently added a few timelapses from Mackinac Island to the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr. About her incredible timelapse of Mackinac Island harbor at sunset, she writes:

Hour & a halfish time lapse of Mackinac Island as the sun goes down, with ferries coming & going, horse carriages & bicycles on the streets, people in the park, & even some glowing Frisbees. :)

Watch it in HD and definitely check out Stephanie’s Flickr, her photography site and also a timelapse of stars at Arch Rock. More from Mackinac on Absolute Michigan.

A Very Michigan Thanksgiving

Turkey by Vaughan

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and over a million Michiganians will soon be hitting the road to attend family get-togethers and enjoying annual traditions. To help get ready for the upcoming holiday we have compiled a bunch of informative and entertaining Thanksgiving related links for you to enjoy.

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    Megatron, Megastar, Madden NFL 13: Detroit Lions Superstar picked for video game cover

Megatron, Megastar, Madden NFL 13: Detroit Lions Superstar picked for video game cover

ESPN (and every other sports outlet in the country) reports that Calvin “Megatron” Johnson has landed the coveted cover of “Madden NFL 13.”:

The Detroit Lions wideout beat out second-year Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for the honor. The vote was announced Wednesday afternoon on “SportsNation” on ESPN2.

Johnson, who won by garnering 52 percent of the more than 651,000 votes cast in the competition, said he was “shocked” by the decision.

“Man, it’s great,” a smiling Johnson said. “Just to see yourself on this Madden (cover) and seeing all the guys that have been on Madden? C’mon, man.”

…Johnson is coming off a spectacular season in which he caught 96 passes for a league-best 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns. He became the third player in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season, joining Jerry Rice and Randy Moss.

The Lions, who made the playoffs last season for the first time in a dozen years, rewarded the former No. 2 overall pick with an eight-year deal worth up to $132 million dollars in March.

While the video game is tremendously popular (selling 1.2 million copies in 2011) it is also purportedly haunted by the Madden Curse, with nearly every superstar who lands the cover having a shattered career following the selection. Richard Langford at the Bleacher Report suggests that Johnson’s freakish size, speed and health will prove tougher than the curse – here’s hoping that we’ll see many more highlights from Megatron.

Here’s Calvin Johnson’s NFL page, his page on the Detroit Lions website, his Wikipedia entry and his Twitter at bigplayCJ. You can see the science behind Calvin’s freakish abilities from Sports Science and watch the ESPN award show below.

Looking forward with the Detroit Lions

“This may have been a loss. Even a lopsided loss. But it was nothing to be ashamed of.”
~Mitch Albom

There’s no doubt that the 45-28 thumping the Lions received at the hands of the New Orleans Saints on Saturday night was a tough reality check for Lions fans hopeful that the team had reached a new level. The internet fairly exploded with criticism of the Lions and a defensive scheme that was unable to force a punt, and then Lions players exploded back, demonstrating frustration and something of a lack of maturity.

To those tempted to hang their heads too low, let’s remember that there are 32 teams in the NFL, and only 12 make the playoffs. Our Lions were one of these. The Detroit News has a look at strengths and weaknesses for 2012, and Michael Rosenberg of the Freep shows us that despite the “one and done” performance this year, these Lions do not have the problems of the 1999 Detroit Lions who lost Barry Sanders to retirement in mid-season and started Charlie Batch and Greg Hill and trailed 27-0 at the half in their playoff game.

Mitch Albom’s column about the game and what it means offers further hope. He notes that while the final score was embarrassing, this team started the game tough and strong and is far from an embarrassment. Albom’s advice?:

So you can weep, or you can put it in perspective. This was a dramatic Lions season. A 5-0 start. A postgame handshake that turned into mayhem. A mega-season from a Megatron. All those come-from-behind victories. A playoff berth. A Saturday night in the Superdome.

Pretty hot stuff for a perennially cold franchise. Remember, there were years when finding a parking space was the highlight of going to a Lions game.

Believe. Belong. You take your steps in the NFL. The defense needs big help, but by all signs, the Lions are a team stepping up. Even if their last image of the season was a stumble.

Indeed. Here’s looking forward to next season … and your comments. We’ll close with a link to the highlights of the post-game conference and this 5 minute recap of the game which doesn’t include a look at the Touchdown That Wasn’t But Should Have Been (which would have given the Lions a 20-7 lead).

Detroit Lions ROAR into the Playoffs

The Detroit Lions face the New Orleans Saints tomorrow night at 8 PM. The Lions went 10-6 in 2011, finishing 2nd in the NFC North. The Bleacher Report has a nice preview of the game, and while nobody is giving the Lions much of a chance, there’s no doubt that we are one of the few teams in the NFL who can get in a shoot-out with a team like the Saints and have a chance of coming out a winner.

Matthew Stafford by clintdavis
Matthew Stafford by clintdavis

More sports from Clint!

While there’s no doubt that Megatron aka Calvin Johnson is a huge factor, Mitch Albom notes another thing Lions fans can take comfort in:

We’ve got a quarterback.

No matter what happens Saturday night in New Orleans, no matter what unfolds in this first Lions playoff season since the last millennium, Detroit fans can say that sentence and take comfort in it.

We’ve got a quarterback.

It is no small deal.

Until Matthew Stafford came of age this season, the guy behind center for Detroit was a phantom. He changed faces, numbers, body types and 40-yard dash speed, but he remained invisible, a shadow, a wispy symbol of a team that was, in the end, going nowhere.

Stafford changed all that. He can flat out play the position. He’s not the fastest, strongest or biggest. But he has the intangible, the “it,” he makes a play, he leads a huddle, he swaggers, he yells, he engineers comebacks and puts the ball on a dime.

You know the “other guy”? That quarterback who always played for the great teams that came into Detroit and kicked butt?

That “other guy” now plays for the Lions.

Stafford was one of four 5000 yard passers in 2011 along with as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. ESPN has an in-depth look at Stafford that’s worth a look. Now settle back and enjoy this great highlight video…

Five Things You Need to Know: Lions & Tigers & Bears Edition

UPDATE, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2011 On Monday night the Lions beat the Bears 24-13 to move to 5-0. Quarterback Matthew Stafford summed up the energy and the role of the crowd:

“It was up there. I mean, it was unbelievable. You know, especially early on some of those third downs, you couldn’t hear yourself think and you know, that’s just the potential of this city. We know that they can get behind us like that and come out and really wreck a game for another team.”

5thingsDetroit is a sports fan’s dream today as the Detroit Tigers play Game 2 of the American League Championship series vs the Texas Rangers this afternoon and the Detroit Lions get ready for their first Monday Night Football appearance in a decade!

Ford Field by dmitriyk
Ford Field by dmitriyk

1. The Reason for the Return is Relevance. The Lions haven’t hosted a Monday night game since October of 1974. The Detroit News reports that downtown hotels are booked, bars are opening early and 2,000 standing-room-only tickets sold out online in four minutes. It’s the first MNF game ever at Ford Field, and Lion kicker Jason Hanson observes: You’re a relevant team again. It comes with winning. You’re playing a game that people are paying attention to.

Relevance also bring numbers, and the Lions are not just shooting to shatter the 62,257 for a 2007 game against the Green Bay Packers, they have a shot at the 68,206 who attended Super Bowl XL on Feb. 5, 2006.

2. The last time the Lions lost a regular season game was 24-20 on December 5th at the hands of the Bears, who are 10-4 during coach Lovie Smith’s tenure. While the two teams definitely don’t have a storied rivalry, there’s definitely little love lost. The Detroit Zoo and Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo have a little wager on the game.

SAWH9708091005403. Hank’s Loss is the Lions’ Gain. After the country music star compared the President to Hitler, MNF went looking for a replacement for the opening video tonight. They found Detroit Lion legend Barry Sanders. Read all about it here and tune in tomorrow for a copy of the video!

4. So how ’bout them Tigers? An early rain delay in Arlington pushed the Tigers to this afternoon as well. The extra day of rest has at least one positive after news that Magglio Ordonez is done for the season – it looks like Tiger #3 hitter Delmon Young will be in the lineup. Add an extra day for starter Max Scherzer and things are looking pretty good for the Tigers.

5. Who wins? The CBS Sports preview (video below)has 5 experts and ALL 5 select the Lions. ESPN’s MNF page has the Lions all over it and their experts are mostly picking the Lions as well. MLB experts are split but one thing is for sure, it’s a wonderful week to be a Detroit sports fan!

2011 Detroit Lions Preview

The Detroit Lions open the 2011 season with if not high expectations, at least expectations.

Ndamukong SuhThat alone is enough for a little excitement. A little. From headlines like “The Lions might be … good” and “Detroit Lions: Why They Are a Sexier Pick Than the Houston Texans“, you can tell that nobody is letting the Detroit Lions’ perfect 2008 preseason and subsequent perfectly awful 0-16 season slide too far from the top of their mind.

Three reasons Lions fans won’t be wearing paper bags over their heads when they attend this season’s gamesAfter all, they are the Lions.

But are they? The Lions languished for an eon with uncertain hands at the tiller but it seems as if the last 2 years have featured smart and and focused decisions like the drafting of Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best & Ndamukong Suh. Like the steady hand the Tigers have enjoyed, it seems to be paying off.

From the upstart editor of SBNation to the not-at-all upstart Adam Jones of ESPN and longtime NFL writer Peter King, folks around the league are priming us for a not-awful season of football. Bleacher Report has an intriguing (if over the top) look at 8 Reasons the Detroit Lions will make the Super Bowl. They require a lot of ifs from if Stafford & Best can stay healthy to if the offensive line can really gel and if the and if a trio of free agent signings – linebackers Stephen Tulloch & Justin Durant and cornerback Eric Wright – can make the difference coaches hope. It’s clear that the Lions have a talented receiving corps, a solid (if fragile) backfield and a defensive line that is downright scary so…?

jahvid best detroit lionsLocally the Detroit Free Press & Detroit News have them finishing 9-7. On the blog front, The Lions in Winter sees very real challenges, especially if Stafford goes down to injury, but sees them as a playoff team. Speaking of blogs, while Pride of Detroit doesn’t seem to have decided yet, their offensive and defensive previews are well done and we’re adding it to our blogroll. If you have a favorite blog, post it below!

One thing is clear, Lions tickets are hot, with the Oct 10 Monday Night Football game sold out and Thanksgiving versus the Green Bay Packers close to selling out.

While this isn’t Jimmy “Spiderman” Allen’s Another One Bites the Dust, someone had to do it…

Seeking Michigan: Gobblers and the Gridiron

Seeking MichiganSeeking Michigan was established to connect you to the stories of our great state. The name is derived from the state motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” Visit them regularly for a dynamic & evolving look at Michigan’s cultural heritage.

1934 Thanksgiving Day Game, University of Detroit Stadium.
1934 Thanksgiving Day Game
University of Detroit Stadium.

Thanksgiving. The story of Pilgrims, Native Americans and the first feast has been retold and acted out in countless grade school programs.  We also anticipate foods not typically served during the course of the year: an entire turkey, cranberry sauce, marshmallows melted on sweet potatoes – and no doubt dozens more.  We anticipate the Christmas shopping season, and Santa simultaneously appears in multiple cities. Since 1920, whether you like it or not, Thanksgiving is also a day for football.

“But Why Detroit?”

It is hard to grow up in Michigan and not have at least seen or heard the Detroit Lions playing on Thanksgiving afternoon.   Detroit has played in every Thanksgiving game since 1934.  Like turkey, it’s a tradition.  But why Detroit?

Detroit entered the National Football League in 1934.  A local radio executive, George A. Richards, had purchased the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans and moved them to Detroit. The Spartans were members of the NFL from 1930 to 1933.

Richards knew it was risky to schedule a game on Thanksgiving, but the new team needed to find it’s place alongside the Detroit Tigers (1901) and Redwings (1926).  By playing on Thanksgiving, the team had the nation’s attention.

G.A. Richards, Pro Football Hall of Fame
G.A. Richards,
Pro Football Hall of Fame

A Detroit Tradition

On somewhat short notice, the Lions played the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit stadium.  26,000 tickets were sold two weeks prior to the game.  Despite the fact that the Bears won the Turkey Day clash 19-16, the experience was a success.  In 1935, Richards signed up for the holiday game again.  This time, Detroit beat Chicago in a game that propelled them to win the 1935 NFL Championship–in their second year!  (The Tigers also won the World Series that year and the Redwings the Stanley Cup in 1936. Take that, Great Depression!).  The enthusiasm and success of the new organization’s Thanksgiving Day game sealed the tradition for Detroit, and that tradition has been in place ever since.

While the Detroit Lions claim the longest run of Thanksgiving Day games, the Detroit Herald Football Club was the first Detroit team to participate in a Thanksgiving clash.  The Heralds played the Dayton Triangles on Thanksgiving Day 1920. This was one of six separate professional football games played in the United States that day. (Click here to see a list of all Thanksgiving Day games 1920-2008).

Detroit Lions gear up for the 2010 NFL Draft

Ndamukong SuhWith the St. Louis Rams appearing to be locked in on Oklahoma’s QB Sam Bradford with the #1 pick tomorrow night in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Shutdown Corner’s Mock Draft shows what the smart money is saying everywhere – the Lions selecting Nebraska’s monster defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. They write:

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Bradford may be the first overall pick, but that’s a need-based decision to a point. When it comes to the best player in this draft class, Suh stands head and shoulders above. His on-field skills are nearly peerless; Suh will fit Detroit’s aggressive 4-3 perfectly, but he would be a great fit anywhere on the line in any scheme. And don’t be surprised if, as much as the Rams believe in Bradford, they don’t feel a tinge of regret at letting Suh go anywhere else.

Although Matt “#1 or and Bust” Millen is far from the decision making process, The Bleacher Report looks at the major investment the Lions have in QB Matthew Stafford and suggests that the Lions could reach for one of the three very strong offensive tackles in the draft: Russell Okung of Oklahoma State, Trent Williams of Oklahoma and Bryan Bulaga of Iowa. The Detroit Lions Weblog looks at the recent trade that sent linebacker Ernie Sims away for tight end Tony Schleffler and the 900 pound elephant in the room, Albert Haynesworth who could allow the Lions some flexibility.

Most likely, who the Lions will take at #34 will be the big story. The Detroit News lists a few including RB Jahvid Best & CB Patrick Robinson of Florida State. Lions Gab is looking at safeties and other positions with well-reasoned analysis – check it out.

This video from ESPN looks at Ndamukong Suh – how to pronounce his name, the fact that his name means “House of Spears” in Cameroon and lots and lots of highlights. If that’s not enough, ESPN’s Draft Capsule breaks down Suh.

Pontiac Silverdome – Sold!

Abandoned Pontiac Silverdome - Pontiac Mi by Derek Farr ( DetroitDerek )
Abandoned Pontiac Silverdome by Derek Farr

The Detroit News reports that the long-shuttered Pontiac Silverdome has been sold for a mere $583,000 as the home for a soccer league. However, with a cost over $55 million to construct:

“This was a giveaway,” said David J. Leitch, a broker with an Auburn Hills based realty firm.

“The property alone, at $10,000 an acre, should have gone for more than that. And you have the Silverdome, its contents, and the infrastructure already in place. I had estimated it would probably go for between $1.2 million and $3 million. I can’t believe it.”

Such sentiments weren’t uncommon Monday, after city officials unsealed bids showing the property that was home to the Detroit Lions was sold at auction to an unnamed Canadian company that plans to bring a soccer league to the stadium. The company’s name will be released when the sale is finalized within 45 days, said Fred Leeb, the city’s emergency financial manager. Leeb acknowledged the sale “is not a windfall,” but said the Silverdome’s $1.5 million upkeep drained the beleaguered city’s finances.

Go to about 1:20 in the video to get past the auction promo. Much more about the Pontiac Silverdome on Michigan in Pictures!