- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas -- On Sunday, Ernie Sims returns to the place where he was a first-round pick and part of a disastrous time in franchise history: Detroit.
It's not the first time, Sims, the ninth-overall pick of the 2006 draft by the Lions, has played there. But in four seasons with the Lions, Sims started every game for three seasons before he was traded to Philadelphia for tight end Tony Sheffler and a seventh-round pick in 2010.
Fans in Detroit felt Sims was part of some rough times. In four seasons, Sims' teams had a 0-16 season and two more seasons with fewer than three victories. The best season with Sims on the team was 2007, when the Lions finished 7-9.
Some fans would consider Sims a bust, but he deems that unfair.
"As far as me being a bust and fans hearing and saying that, in all honestly, I could care less," Sims said. "That's just from the bottom of my heart. I know the type of athlete I am, I know what I've been through, I know what its been [like] behind those closed doors and there's no doubt about it, the fans or whoever else says that, knows this [little] much about what I've been through. That’s why I could care less what they said."
Sims attributes his time in Detroit as a learning experience and part of his maturity now. Sims says then coach Rod Marinelli, who is also visiting the Lions, as the Cowboys' defensive line coach, had a big influence on his life as a man.
Sims' career turned from highly-regarding draft pick from Florida State, to a man who has bounced around from Detroit, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and the Cowboys.
Sims has played against the Lions in the past. In 2010, while a member of the Eagles, Sims recorded four tackles and a pass breakup. As the Lions progress, Sims said he's proud to see the franchise put a difficult time behind them because he's with a franchise trying to move forward as well.
"Every time I play Detroit, any the team I play for, every time I play them I have a little something about me," Sims said. "I feel some sort of attachment to Detroit. I got drafted there so it's something different for me than playing anywhere else. It's going to be exciting obviously they have turned that program around, it's good to see. But I'm on the other side of the fence and I want to get this win."