Wednesday, January 22, 2014
NFLN survey/Super Bowl player: Lions
By Michael Rothstein
This is probably the toughest question to get a real feel on, especially since players are likely going to vote one of two ways.
They are either going to give it to the ubertalented player who has been stuck on a team with no shot to make the Super Bowl or one of their close friends in the league.
It is in the first vein where Calvin Johnson, as he has done so often throughout this survey, popped up on the list. If you were a player on another team in the NFL, you almost have to feel for Johnson. He is the most talented receiver in the game and received the third-most votes for the player others would most like to see in the Super Bowl.
One problem: The Lions have never been there. Not once. Only came a step away from the Super Bowl, the conference championship game, once. They have won one playoff game in the Super Bowl era.
The previous best at his position to play for Detroit, Barry Sanders, never made the Super Bowl either.
This is the problem with the Detroit Lions. No matter the talent they have, they have been unable to reach the final game of the season. The votes for Johnson, just behind the top running back in the game and a lifetime achievement award for Tony Gonzalez, underscores there are others who likely notice that as well.
Johnson, though, understands it isn’t all on him to make the Super Bowl. There is zero doubt he aspires to play in the game at some point in his career, but it is on more than him.
He discussed this with ESPN.com toward the end of the season, when it looked like the Lions were still headed toward the playoffs, and whether his career was lacking because of the lack of a Super Bowl or playoff success.
“Whatever happens, I’m not frustrated for the lack of not having a Super Bowl because it’s a team sport,” Johnson said. “It takes the whole team, all three phases for us to get there.
“One man can’t do it by himself, as much as you might want him to, but it can’t happen.”
That’s part of the reason Detroit hired a new coaching staff and made significant roster upgrades the past two seasons. The Lions understand they need more than Johnson to get to the Super Bowl.