All lions fans remember what happened to Charles Rogers 7-years ago now, with agony. The Lions drafted the outstanding wide receiver out of Michigan State in 2003. Michigan State was where he set (and still holds) the record for career touchdowns, the record for most yards in a game (270) and where he broke Randy Mosses record of 13 straight games with a touchdown catch.
It was ironic when Rogers broke Moss’ record because that was who he was being compared to by draft experts including ESPN’s Mel Kiper. Kiper was high on him, the Lions front organization was high on him, and the fans were in favor of bringing in the hometown kid to the Lions. All the while, Charles Rogers was just plain high. Rogers before the draft tested positive for a masking agent that disguises ones use of illegal drugs, in Rogers case probably marijuana. Experts weighed in about how this would drop his draft stock significantly, and how he would fall because teams in the top 5 would want a sure thing, not a risky player.
But of course Matt Millen and the Lions went for Rogers and it turned out horribly. Besides the pot smoking and domestic violence, Rogers broke his collarbone two separate times. First in his rookie year, then again in his second year. Both injuries ended his season and he was never able to recover and be productive for the Lions or any other team again.
Fast forward a few years to 2009 and once again the Lions have another early pick (this time the number one pick) and they decide to take another highly touted player but this player has no character questions. It seemed the Lions were finally learning. But despite the Lions taking the safe pick (and the correct pick) in Stafford, the same thing happened. No, not the weed and the beating up of girlfriends but the injuries. Stafford in an eerily similar manner to Charles Rogers injured himself as a rookie, and ended his season a few games in, and then did the same the next season.
I’m not trying to compare Rogers to Stafford and say that what happened to Rogers will happen to Stafford because it probably won’t, but its interesting to look at the two side-by-side. I’m not saying I believe in the Curse of Bobby Lane, but the Lions have a pattern of futility and the same bad things seem to happen to them over and over again. With the numerous high draft picks that have all seemed to flop during the Millen era, the numerous injuries to Lions in key situations, and the losing, everything that happens to the Lions seems to repeat (except winning). So why think that the Stafford injury will be any different?
What brought about my comparing Stafford to Rogers was the recent statement from Stafford claiming “I’m going to play all 16 [games].” That’s a big claim for someone repeatedly injured the last two years. I know the offensive line was horrible, the receivers weren’t helping too much by getting open, and so on, but theres something with the Lions that doesn’t follow common sense. With an improved group of offensive linemen, receivers, and an all-around better team the Lions should be a lot better this year and Stafford should stay healthy. But those are some big shoulds for the Detroit Lions. The Lions are once again the popular pick to be the surprise team this year. Football analysts by the pack (or the pride) are coming out and saying how good the Lions are going to be this year.
I want to believe it, but maybe I believe a little more in some kind of curse on the Lions. Maybe my twenty years as a Lions fan have conditioned me to be a cynic, and expect something to go wrong. Maybe it’s all connected and there really is a curse on the Detroit Lions. But maybe I’m looking into this too much and there really is no connection between Stafford and Rogers. Either way, maybe is good, because maybe still leaves a sliver of hope. Maybe is why Lions fans still show up to Ford Field on Sundays, maybe is why the true fans, stay fans, and maybe is why I’m writing this article. Maybe Stafford will stay healthy and the Lions will win the Super Bowl, maybe the curse is over now, and maybe, just maybe us Lions fans can stop thinking cynically and negatively about our team and the Lions can finally win.