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Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

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    Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

    What follows is a somewhat quixotic attempt to rewrite history, thanks to a video game.

    A confession first. Like so many of us, I grew up in the 1980s on Channel 4's American football coverage. I remember in particular one playoff game from 1991, when the Dallas Cowboys, then an ascendant young team that would achieve greatness in the years to come, went into Detroit to play the Lions.

    This was the era of Barry Sanders and the Silver Stretch, the wide-open run and shoot offense designed by Mouse Davis with multiple WR formations, receivers running wild in the secondary, a high-adrenalin pinball attack.

    The dome in Motown was rocking as Channel 4 cut to the game, and I remember thinking, this is something to behold, a sea of Honolulu Blue and Silver roaring for their Lions, a rust-belt industrial town that had lost the greatness ofs its automobile past, a community that had forgotten its Motown sense of pride and identity, now united by its football team.

    Well, the Lions came out like, in the words of the original LT, a "bunch of crazed dogs", and they killed the Cowboys 38-6. At the time, it seemed like a shining future awaited the Lions, but in truth that game is the high watermark for Detroit in the last 20 years.

    In fact, Detroit's recent history has been a dark tragi-comic tale of bungling and misery, of the reign of the buffoon GM Matt Millen and his countless draft busts. This tale of woe culminated with the firing of Millen this season, but it should have happened many years ago.

    This exercise in historical revisionism will discover what could have happened if that had taken place back in 2003, after Millen had compiled consecutive seasons of 2-14 and 3-13 to commence his career.

    I will use Madden 2004, the finest incarnation of Madden on the PS2, and through playing the Detroit Lions on franchise mode, I will see just what could have happened in the years to come.

    Like a true GM, I will not play the game, but rather make the decisions that count - the personnel decisions, draft picks and free agents and so forth. And like a real GM, I will not play the game, but instead watch it.

    Madden will play itself if you set it to, and the effect is just like watching an NFL game. That's what I will do, but I won't watch all of them, just the post-season ones if and when the Lions make the playoffs. We will simulate the regular season games.

    I plan to create an NFL Camelot through assembling the most brilliant athletes of their day in Motown, the fastest, strongest, most agile competitors, and so assemble a true NFL dynasty that will stand the test of time.

    I will update you on all my moves as GM and tell you how the team does every season and together, we will write a new history of the Detroit Lions.

    Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown


    QB: Joey Harrington has recently been drafted and has some potential but, rather like real life, he does not have the arm strength to be a great player. The less said about Mike McMahon and Ty Detmer the better.

    HB: James Stewart is an old bruiser who does not fit our Silver Stretch attack.

    FB: Cory Schlesinger is another elderly grinder.

    WR: Rookie Charles Rogers has fabulous potential (since we have gone back in history, he has not yet squandered it), and Az-Zahir Hakim has speed, but that's about it.

    TE: Mikhael Ricks is serviceable as a receiving TE.

    OL: Actually some talent here in the form of tackles Jeff Backus and Stockar McDougle and C Dominic Raiola. The G position however is a wasteland apart from ancient Ray Brown.

    DL: The strength of the team with Robert Porcher still a great one, Shaun Rogers an emerging force at DT and Luther Elliss a good run-stopping battler.

    LB: Young Boss Bailey has nice speed and Earl Holmes is the veteran run-stopper in the middle.

    CB: Dre' Bly has just arrived on a big $$$ contract but apart from him it's a disaster zone.

    S: Various dreadful, overpaid, slow old duffers.

    K/P: Jason Hanson and John Jett are serviceable.


      Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

      Our first act as GM is to hire Mike Martz. This could have happened as Martz was coming off a disastrous season with the Rams, and in any case, he is the nearest thing we have to Mouse Davis in terms of a wide-open offensive coach.


        Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

        ROSTER CUTS:

        Our first initial moves are to cut all the dross off of our roster. We will not cut players with high signing bonuses because of the pro-rated consequences on the cap next year, just the low-grade duffers with negligible bonuses.


        Luke Staley
        Shawn Jefferson
        Scotty Anderson
        Tony Semple
        Jared DeVries
        Donte Curry
        Andre Goodman
        Chris Watson
        Jimmy Wyrick
        Brian Walker
        Lamar Campbell
        Tyrone Hopson


          Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

          There is a pool of free agents out there initially. Relatively slim pickings, but one or two who have some value.


          The figures after the player refer to the total contract and the length of years, so for example, 7/7 is a $7m deal over 7 years.

          Larry Centers (7/7)
          Michael Westbrook (3/1)
          Wally Williams (8.5/7)
          Leon Searcy (7.5/7)
          Todd Lyght (18.5/7)
          Juran Bolden (12/7)
          Terry Fair (10/7)
          Ronnie Bradford (8/7)

          Centers is a gifted FB whose pass-catching skills suit our offense better than Schlesinger's. Westbrook is big and strong, if not that gifted, but he will help our WR corps. We bolster our weak G position with two veteran roadgraders, Williams and Searcy, who are still solid starters, and address our weakness at CB with three pickups, Lyght, Fair and Bolden. Lyght and Fair are former Lions so they are coming home. Bradford is a useful FS who could start.


            Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown


            It is often better to buy players out of a big long-term contract by giving them a big single-year deal than it is to cut them.

            Matt Joyce (1.5/1)

            We buy the low-grade Joyce out of his deal in this instance.


              Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown


              When we simulate the pre-season games, young players who do well get a little better. Here is who improved this year.

              Harrington +1 to 80
              Charles Rogers +3 to 87
              Backus +1 to 84
              Raiola +1 to 78
              Edwards +1 to 79
              Shaun Rogers +2 to 87
              Bailey +1 to 75
              Cash +2 to 74


                Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                You can't possibly do worse than Millen did.

                I don't the program allows you to be that stupid.

                Do be careful about the colours, though. If you tweak the Honolulu Blue, I will hunt you down and kill you.


                  Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                  So this is our LIONS YEAR 1 roster:


                  Joey Harrington (1) 80
                  Mike McMahon (2) 76
                  Ty Detmer (10) 64


                  James Stewart (8) 83
                  Shawn Bryson (4) 72
                  Artose Pinner (R) 66


                  Larry Centers (13) 88
                  Cory Schlesinger (8) 86


                  Charles Rogers (R) 87
                  Michael Westbrook (8) 79
                  Az-Zahir Hakim (5) 77
                  Bill Schroeder (6) 73
                  Eddie Drummond (1) 61


                  Mikhael Ricks (5) 69
                  Matt Murphy (1) 60
                  John Owens (1) 54


                  Jeff Backus (2) 84
                  Victor Rogers (1) 60


                  Ray Brown (17) 86
                  Wally Williams (10) 80


                  Dominic Raiola (2) 78
                  Frank Romero (1) 60


                  Leon Searcy (11) 77
                  Eric Beverly (5) 74


                  Stockar McDougle (3) 78
                  Matt Joyce (8) 76


                  Robert Porcher (11) 90
                  Cory Redding (R) 65


                  Kalimba Edwards (1) 79
                  James Hall (3) 68


                  Luther Elliss (8) 90
                  Shaun Rogers (2) 87
                  Kelvin Pritchett (11) 65


                  Boss Bailey (R) 75
                  Jeff Gooch (7) 65


                  Earl Holmes (7) 89
                  Wali Rainer (4) 78


                  Barrett Green (3) 72
                  Brian Williams (8) 57


                  Dre' Bly (4) 83
                  Todd Lyght (12) 83
                  Juran Bolden (7) 76
                  Chris Cash (1) 74
                  Terry Fair (5) 74


                  Ronnie Bradford (10) 79
                  Terrence Holt (R) 66


                  Corey Harris (11) 75
                  Bracy Walker (9) 56


                  Jason Hanson (11) 87


                  John Jett (10) 84


                    Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                    That's all for now - next time, we will get this thing underway and sim Year 1!


                      Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                      This is going to be awesome.

                      Torcida--do you have NCAA Football 2004 for the PS2? I ask because (I assume you can do this in 04, I have both for 05) you can export the draft class from NCAA and put it in Madden so you get rookies from that season. I understand that would be a lot more extra work though, simulating a whole other season in a different game!


                        Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                        Torcida's roster above is about 54000% better than the one the Lions have at the moment.

                        I knew Millen was incompetent, but I hadn't realised exactly how much of a trainwreck his tenure had become until I looked at the Lions' 2008 depth chart - of that lot, only Jason Hanson (drafted in 1992 when things were very, very different) has ever been worth a damn.


                          Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                          Incandenza wrote:
                          This is going to be awesome.

                          Torcida--do you have NCAA Football 2004 for the PS2? I ask because (I assume you can do this in 04, I have both for 05) you can export the draft class from NCAA and put it in Madden so you get rookies from that season. I understand that would be a lot more extra work though, simulating a whole other season in a different game!
                          I would love to try NCAA 2004, but my understanding was that it wasn't available in the UK and the US version didn't work on British machines?


                            Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                            Why is it that all fullbacks in Madden seem to be between the mid 70s and mid 80s? I can't remember seeing a truly bad FB in the 2005 game. Makes things good for drafting and contract negotiating, though, since there's always another good FB out there.

                            And this thread allows me to link to one of my favorite blog posts of all time, an imaginary letter from Redskins long snapper Ethan Albright, who had the lowest rating in Madden 07, a 52, to John Madden:

                            You know what, John? Two can play this game. I rate you a fucking 12. I rate you a fucking 12 in Ethan Albright Football 2000-ever… except for in the category of ball-licking. That is where I will spot you a 98 rating. You will receive this score because I will never give your blubbery ass a 99 in any category. Take that, pencil-dick. Go do Al Micheals or something. Boom. Score one for Red Beard.

                            It’s also pretty wonderful that my awareness rating was 59. You make it sound like I wake up in the morning, helplessly shit and piss myself, then lose three of my teeth before I discover that I am trying to eat a rock for breakfast. Fuck, John, I understand you saying that I am slow and lacking athleticism, but a rating like this pretty much labels me as retarded. Rod “He Hate Me” Smart has a 52 in this category. Electronic Arts is saying that seven rating points separate me and the breathing embodiment of the perfect oxymoron. Rod Smart struggled to arrange words in sentence form. Cave men had better hold of the English language. The only actions that separate point values of ignorance at this embarrassing level are things like using your own toothbrush to wipe your ass. I basically edged out Rod by my lack of shit teeth. If I take a night school class, could you bump me up to a 60?

                            I guess I just can’t fathom the fact that I am the absolute worst player rated out of the entire NFL. Fuck, man, there are some shitty guys out there. Amongst everyone, I was rated the absolute worst.

                            I have received the impression that you feel that I am lacking in the agility category. I should consider a walk through my living room where I don’t crash through a wall or kick over furniture a resounding success. My agility rating on your game is 33. It makes it sound like I just topple over if I start walking too fast. Ted Washington is rated a 40 in agility. He is listed at 365 pounds. If Ted Washington tied a white lady up and made her wear a metal bikini, he’d look just like Jabba the Hut.

                            John, you are such a fucking dick. I also noticed that my kick return rating was a 0. I was rated a fucking zero? So you feel that I shouldn’t even receive a 10, or even a 5? You are pretty much saying that I couldn’t even fall forward on a ball kicked in my direction. I would just stand there and let the ball bounce off of my fucking face. Fuck that, John, I returned an onside kick 6 yards in 2002. You should have just slapped a - 4 on me and had the EA staff ambush me with paintball guns.


                              Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                              Well, as a long-snapper, who is responsible for throwing the ball as far as they can away from them, or a punt-catcher/returner, who is responsible for catching a spinning oval falling 40 yards out of the sky, I'd have said Mr. Madden and Mr. E.A. Sport might have had a point.

                              Torcida, I can talk a lot about that team, and that era. I really appreciate that someone appreciates that team, that city, and that era. And especially that game, which was absolutely fucking glorious (forgotten, of course, by those Cuntboys winning 3 more StupidBowls in the 90s.)

                              I'll always remember the Lion mascot coming on the field to celebrate along with the players' touchdown celebration. It wasn't only a high water mark for the Lions (after all, the Pistons did fucking dismantle and destroy Shaq, Kobe, Karl, and Gary; and the Red Wings racked up a bunch of Cups during that time,) but it was a high-water mark for mascots all over the world as well.

                              Wayne Fontes and Barry Sanders; Barry having no confidence in Fontes, but having all the talent in the world and not an insubordinate bone in his body, and Fontes having all the confidence in the world in Barry and his team, and all the confidence of a cartoon character who runs off a cliff and doesn't take the time to look down in his team and himself.


                                Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                                Oh yeah, when I was 17, I was riding a plane back from Seattle, after coming from Japan. I was sitting next to a certain writer from Sports Illustrated named Peter King.

                                I was so impressed with Barry Sander's first two seasons, that I told him my pick was the Lions to win the Super Bowl that year. He told me "the Lions are good, but the Redskins are going to win it this year." The Redskins won it that year. Peter King gave me a card with his autograph. He was annoyed when I asked, but you could hear himself thinking "fuck. Subscriptions and letters to the editor."


                                  Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                                  It seems my memory failed me with the relationship of Fontes and Sanders.

                                  Wayne Fontes was also Cabo Verdean, which most definitely makes him the first Cape Verdean coach in an NFC Championship.


                                    Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                                    If Barry Sanders had played for Oklahoma and the Bears instead of Oklahoma State and the Lions, he would almost certainly be recognised as the greatest halfback of all time.


                                      Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                                      So Year 1 of the Lions has been simmed, and we have gone a more than respectable 11-5!

                                      Coming up, the key stats!


                                        Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                                        YEAR 1 TOP PERFORMERS:

                                        Operating in a high-octane passing game, JOEY HARRINGTON passed for a surprising 4455 yards and 30 TDs, but also threw 23 INTs.

                                        JAMES STEWART had a career year, rushing for 1488 yards and 15 TDs. I doubt he'll manage to do that again.

                                        CHARLES ROGERS posted stratosphere reception numbers, 150 for 1874 yards but only 9 TDs. I'll be the first to say that receptions figure is too high, but generally the game is pretty realistic.

                                        AZ-ZAHIR HAKIM added 94 catches for 1413 yards and 8 TDs.

                                        MIKHAEL RICKS had 89 catches for 671 yards and 8 TDs.

                                        ROBERT PORCHER had 65 tackles and 8 sacks.


                                          Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                                          YEAR 1 PRO BOWLERS:



                                            Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                                            As a wildcard, we will be going on the road to visit St Louis and their Rams!


                                              Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                                              YEAR 1 PLAYOFF STARTERS:

                                              QB JOEY HARRINGTON (80) - Erratic and noodle-armed, but does have some agility
                                              HB JAMES STEWART (83) - Veteran grinder has power but not a lot of speed
                                              FB LARRY CENTERS (88) - Elegant receiving FB on his last legs
                                              WR1 CHARLES ROGERS (87) - The sky is the limit for this fabulously gifted rookie
                                              WR2 MICHAEL WESTBROOK (79) - Big and strong, he will line up opposite ROGERS
                                              WR3 AZ-ZAHIR HAKIM (77) - And the diminutive speedster will line up in the slot
                                              TE MIKHAEL RICKS (69) - Adequate receiver, not much of a blocker
                                              LT JEFF BACKUS (84) - Not dominating, but technically accomplished
                                              LG RAY BROWN (86) - Ancient vet on the point of retirement
                                              C DOMINIC RAIOLA (78) - Skilled without being overpowering
                                              RG WALLY WILLIAMS (80) - Solid veteran starts on the right this year
                                              RT STOCKAR McDOUGLE (78) - Very strong, lot of potential, but still pretty green

                                              LE ROBERT PORCHER (90) - Great strength and an accomplished pass-rusher
                                              RE KALIMBA EDWARDS (79) - Light but fast
                                              DT LUTHER ELLISS (90) - Solid, strong, run-stopper
                                              DT SHAUN ROGERS (87) - Good agility and leaping skills
                                              LOLB BOSS BAILEY (75) - Very raw but very fast with superlative acceleration
                                              MLB EARL HOLMES (89) - Not the fastest, but a big hitter
                                              ROLB BARRETT GREEN (72) - Solid but not great speed
                                              CB1 DRE' BLY (83) - Accomplished cover guy
                                              CB2 TODD LYGHT (83) - Lost a step but hits hard
                                              CB3 TERRY FAIR (74) - The fastest of our CBs will be the nickelback
                                              FS RONNIE BRADFORD (79) - Has good speed, smart
                                              SS COREY HARRIS (75) - Slow and old, a banger

                                              K JASON HANSON (87) - Respected veteran K
                                              P JOHN JETT (84) - Doesn't have the biggest leg


                                                Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                                                YEAR 1 TEAM OVERVIEW:

                                                This LIONS team is still very much a work in progress.

                                                The strength of our team is our offensive and defensive lines, so on offense we will have to establish the run with JAMES STEWART, and hope that HARRINGTON can get the ball off to ROGERS, HAKIM, WESTBROOK or RICKS without throwing picks.

                                                On defense we should be able to exert pressure on the QB and stop the run, but with our suspect secondary, we do not want to get into a shoot-out.

                                                A number of veterans are set to retire after this year, including LARRY CENTERS, RAY BROWN, TODD LYGHT and COREY HARRIS, so going forward, we are likely to be a very young team.


                                                  Rebirth of the SILVER STRETCH in Motown

                                                  Coming up, the 11-5 LIONS at the 10-6 RAMS!

                                                  This is the Greatest Show on Turf era Rams with Warner, Faulk, Bruce and Holt, so this is a tough match-up!