SCHMIDT: How the Lions learned how to win

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This has to be some sort of mistake. The Detroit Lions are a bunch of good for nothing losers. They stink. They wouldn’t know the definition of success if Barry Sanders slapped them across the face with a dictionary.

And they couldn’t possibly be winning, could they?

Not only is this a team that doesn’t win games, like ever, it actually seems generally appalled at the idea. The Lions are normally, traditionally, habitually, big fat failures. In fact, their disdain for anything remotely close to ambition or accomplishment was so grand back in 2008 they failed to win a single game — the first ever winless season in NFL history.

0-16. Chumps. Hacks. Stick to building cars.

You have to admit, though, the Lions were at least good at losing. It was almost admirable how they got trampled game after game, year after year. The Detroit Lions were the Losingest Losers in all of Loserdom. The Little Giants and Bad News Bears rolled into one.

But all those losses can take their toll. Losing can cripple a franchise. It can paralyze players. Just ask the Chicago Cubs. Ask the Los Angeles Clippers. Ask Charlie Sheen, a man who knows the dredges of losing and the glories of winning better than anyone.

Losing, simply put, is grim death.

Yet the Lions are somehow very much alive. Despite all odds, they are winning. And winning. And winning.

5-0. Undefeated and tied with the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers for best record in the league.

For the Chicago Bear or Packer fans on campus, this is a bewildering turn of events. The Lions have always been an afterthought in the NFC North, a proverbial skid mark in the Black and Blue Division. They were two wins, nothing more, nothing less.

This season? They’re scary good. By crazy random happenstance, losing all those years has made the Lions borderline unstoppable. They’ve screwed up countless high draft picks in the past, including three straight wide receivers taken in the first round that are no longer on the team — Mike Williams (too fat), Roy Williams (too apathetic), and Charles Rogers (too many drugs).

But over the last few drafts, the can’t-hit-water-if-you-fell-out-of-a-boat Lions finally started to deliver on some talent.

First, and most importantly, they got receiver Calvin Johnson. They call him Megatron, like the gigantic, god-awful war machine. It’s easy to connect the dots. He’s six-foot-five, 230-pounds, has a 45-inch vertical and runs like his shorts are on fire. According to Sports Science, he has a receiving radius the height and length of a two-car garage.

Then they took quarterback Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick three years ago, which looked like a pick teetering on insane and masochistic after the oft-injured QB struggled through two seasons. But now, with Megatron at his disposal, Stafford has looked golden, putting up numbers almost impressive as Tom Brady’s and Aaron Rodgers’.

There have been other great picks, winning picks, picks that usually evade such woeful losers like the Lions. Running back Jahvid Best has been a revelation in the backfield, and defensive lineman Ndamakung Suh is as ferocious a defender as there is in the league, attacking petrified opponents with all the gusto of a grumpy tornado.

And so the losers became winners. And the city of Detroit lifted the paper bags off their heads and rejoiced. And the NFL took notice.

It’s fair to say that the Lions took a long and strange path to eventual triumph, one that was soundtracked by boos and accentuated by a terrible, terrible reign by former general manager Matt Millen, who was either trying his hardest to get fired or was the single worst judge of talent in human history.

The moral of the story, however, is that if you lose long and hard enough, eventually, you too can be a winner. The Lions did it, and now they’re arguably the best team in the league.

Not that it matters. In my opinion, winning is overrated anyway.

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