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  • Writer's pictureChad Marriott

The Biggest Lost Opportunities in Detroit Sports

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Detroit has certainly failed to capitalize on some legitimate talent in recent memory. The city has had several extremely talented teams come up short of their championship goals. There is no doubt that the Tiger teams from 2006-2014 and the Piston teams from 2002-2008 achieved less than expected. That is why we should all be grateful for that 2004 NBA Championship.

Reality, as it often does, failed to meet expectations. I certainly thought there would be more titles in Detroit. I am aware that I have not included the incredibly successful Red Wings. To be honest, I have watched five hockey games in my whole life. What follows, however, is an examination of some extremely talented players that the Lions, Tigers, and Pistons did not quite capitalize on.

1. Barry Sanders.

Every Lions fan laments the fact that the Lions had the greatest running back of his generation (maybe of all time) and still struggled so much. During his 10-year Hall-of-Fame career, the Lions reached the playoffs five times with only one win. He rushed for over 15,000 yards and would have shattered the rushing record if he had kept playing. Barry’s stats, as incredible as they are, do not do him justice. If you really want to get a grip on his abilities, go over to YouTube and look up his highlights. Any play that Barry Sanders had the ball could have been 6.

2. Justin Verlander

It is incredible that Verlander is still going strong for Houston, however, it undoubtedly proves that the Tigers missed out while they had an unbelievable talent. The Tigers, of course, had a lot more success during Verlander’s time than most of the other teams on this list have had. They made it to the World Series twice with Verlander and had three more playoff appearances on top of that. Verlander has been in the top five for the Cy Young seven times and could possibly win it for the second time this season. While he won a World Series in Houston, he could never quite get there with the Tigers. It really is unfortunate because those Tiger teams were loaded and had more than one top-tier talent.

3. Miguel Cabrera

Miggy was insanely talented. For a long time, he was one of the top talents in all of Major League Baseball. Triple Crown Winner. Two-Time MVP. The guy just hit the cover off the ball. He could hit for power, drive home runs, and just get on base. He has lost a step in the last couple of years. The fact that he and Verlander played together makes the Tiger’s not winning a World Series during that span hurt a bit more. It was fun though, right? 100% The duo led several years of stellar Tiger’s baseball.

4. Calvin Johnson

MEGATRON!!! Watching Calvin Johnson play wide-receiver was wild. Stafford would just chuck the ball in his direction with triple coverage and Megatron would find a way to make the catch. The phrase, “a man amongst boys” is overused. For Johnson it was underused. Johnson is another player that requires you to hop on over to YouTube and just watch him make plays. He had great hands, unreal athleticism, and was a good route runner too. He was the Lebron James of football. The only difference is that in football you can just knock guys over, get physical, and triple-team a guy on every single play. The scariest part is that it often did not matter. Calvin Johnson always made a difference out there. Unfortunately, the Lions only made the playoffs twice with Megatron in nine seasons.

5. Grant Hill

Another incredibly talented player. Unfortunately, his career was derailed by injuries after he left Detroit. While in Detroit he had a great career. I am sure a lot of people remember him as a player post-injury, but again check out the highlights on YouTube. Grant Hill was before his time. He played Point-Forward. Detroit made the playoffs four times in his six seasons. They never advanced past the first round. Hill could never quite take the next step as a superstar and advance his team deeper into the playoffs.

Upcoming. Mathew Stafford.

Unfortunately, I think the Lions will waste the greatest quarterback in the history of the franchise. Stafford is a top ten quarterback in the NFL, has consistently put up numbers, toughed it out of bad situations, but somehow the Lions have always managed to screw that up. Look at week one versus Arizona. As Johnny Most would say, “A typical disgusting display.” Stafford deserves better from Detroit. So many fans, including myself from time to time, love to blame him for the Lions woes. I think these people are forgetting about how much fun it was to watch Jon Kitna, Joey Harrington, and Charlie Batch. Some people may say, “But Scott Mitchell was better.” Go home. You’re drunk. Hopefully, I am proven wrong and the Lions have a stretch of worthwhile seasons.

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