If you're a fan of the NFL or have turned on ESPN, the NFL Network or read any of the thousands of websites devoted to the League, you've heard about the Detroit Lions and you've seen the double-wide, extra long trailer carrying the long time suffering fans, the new bandwagon fans and their recent hype machine.
One person you won't see tagging along is former NFL fullback, Heath Evans, who retired in August and has taken on a role as an analyst for the NFL Network.
The term analyst should be taken very lightly.
A few comments here and there about not believing in the Lions and comparing Matthew Stafford to Carolina rookie quarterback Cam Newton has set ablaze the online Lions community, so it compelled us to delve further into Evans' claims.
First we'll start with his abhorrent NFL Network broadcast that witnessed Evans comparing Stafford to Newton. Evans blindly proclaimed Newton the superior quarterback of the two during a quarrel with Michael Lombardi, a fellow analyst.
In between bouts of enjoying the sound of his own voice and beating his own chest, Evans provided "analysis" in response to Lombardi's claim that the NFC North was the league's top division -- buoyed by its strength at the quarterback position. Evans preferred the NFC South's QB stable, and that's where the fun began.
Sneaking in such evidence as first-grade logic and game film to seemingly make things easier on his counterpart, Lombardi responded that Stafford and Newton were "worlds apart." But once Lombardi made the leap that Newton -- a rookie quarterback -- was a "developing" player, Evans' head nearly exploded, and he disregarded Lombardi's use of common sense like a child refusing cough syrup. Evans then stated (and there is video to back this up) that Newton "brings things to the table that Matthew Stafford will never bring to the table," prompting an Emmy-worthy look of bewilderment from Lombardi.
(Ed. note: We immediately thought of this clip)
At this point, I should probably mention that Evans is a graduate of Auburn University, the very same school Newton just led to a national title this year. I don't think anyone has a problem with supporting your guy, but to just throw darts and hope it sticks isn't doing your job, and Heath should know that.
Since Stafford, despite having been injured, has actually played in an NFL game outside of the preseason, we'll just have some fun with 2011 preseason numbers.
According to NFL.com, Newton played in all four preseason games for the Panthers, starting three of them and went 24 of 57 for what would appear to be a 42 percent completion rate. He also marched down the field throwing for a gaudy 300 yards and one total touchdown. And to add to that golden resume, he even ran in a touchdown. All the while leading Carolina to a 1-3 record and a Brady-esque 64.9 passer rating.
It was almost as though he's a developing player.
Stafford struggled mightily to post similar numbers. Hailing from the University of Georgia, somewhat of a famed Auburn rival, Stafford went 25 for 33 for a 76 percent completion rate. He compiled 395 yards and five touchdowns while the Lions pulled out four consecutive wins.
Now, I know just as well as anyone that this is just the preseason, so it's hard to substantiate all world claims, especially after the Lions only a few years back completed a perfect preseason and then went on to become the first team ever to lose all 16 regular season games. I get that. I can comprehend (though it's worth mentioning the '93 team went undefeated in the preseason, too, before winning the division). But because you can't compare collegiate careers (Troy Smith, Eric Crouch, Jason White, etc) we must go based on what we know: preseason measurements.
The second suggestion that Evans made was that the Lions are sure to be run out of Tampa Bay, tails tucked between their legs as the Bucs are sure to lay them out and expose them as the frauds they are.
Evans is right, the Lions may very well lose this game. It's possible. Tampa Bay has been talked about as one of the league's up-and-coming teams with plenty of talent and a good young coach in Raheem Morris. But to infer Detroit would be run out of a building they won in less than a year ago is preposterous. Detroit handed a playoff-contending Bucs team a 23-20 overtime loss. And the Lions did it without Stafford. They even did it without his back-up.
Yep, Heath, the Lions traveled down to the Sunshine State and thumped the Bucs in their own building with a third-string quarterback.
After stuttering and stammering en route to a losing battle against Lombardi, reason, and maybe sanity, Evans offered up this brilliant nugget before being saved by a commercial break: "Your division may be the most physical, but it doesn't mean it's the toughest."
Just like you may have an NFL Network job, Heath, but it doesn't mean you know what you're talking about.
Publisher Nate Caminata helped contribute to this article. Topher readily admits that the title was stolen direct from The Den online forum, but wishes he had thought of it first.