ALLEN PARK -- The National Football league is comprised of competitive athletes – most of which are accustomed to winning for the majority of their football-playing lives – who have a true disdain for losing.
Hours are invested in meeting rooms in the form of film study and sweat and blood are lost on fields through practice – all in an effort to obtain victory.
The higher the expectations are for a team, the greater the pain when a win escapes its grasp.
Despite the sting, losing is a reality all teams must deal with – even the elite teams. In fact, only one team in the Super Bowl era has achieved a season absent of defeat, the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
It’s a hurdle the Detroit Lions are currently in the process of clearing.
“Adversity hits in some way, shape or form throughout a year,” said Lions cornerback Eric Wright. “You have to find a way to bounce back. Teams that do well in this league are teams that are able to overcome adversity So, with a two game losing streak, we obviously want to get back on track but we have the guys in this locker-room, great character guys, that are going to continue to work hard and persevere through this adversity.”
After closing out 2010 with four consecutive victories the Lions opened the 2011 season with a perfect preseason and a 5-0 start. Since, they’ve lost back-to-back contests. The losses leave an unwelcomed feeling amongst the squad but also may provide the spark to help them elevate their game.
“We weren’t a cocky team at 5-0, so I didn’t think we needed to be humbled but being humbled is always a good thing,” said wide receiver Nate Burleson. “We understand that the feeling of losing can happen any time. There wasn’t complacency but guys were happy to be 5-0, but now that we are 5-2, we have this rotten taste in our mouths that we don’t ever want to taste again. I could see how this right here could be something that catapults us.”
If the notion of a losing streak providing some of the essential characteristics of winning sounds illogical a look at recent history might offer a different perspective.
Recent Super Bowl champions have scaled the mountain of adversity and reached the summit as more complete, harder working teams.
In 2010, the Green Bay Packers had two separate instances where they suffered through back-to-back losses before becoming the eventual Super Bowl champions. In 2009, the New Orleans Saints lost three consecutive games heading into the playoffs – two of which came at a time when the team was attempting to hold off the surging Minnesota Vikings for the top spot in the NFC – en route to a Super Bowl victory.
Going back further, the New York Giants lost their first two games of the season in 2007 before toppling the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. The 2006 Indianapolis Colts and 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers also can be added to the list of recent teams who have overcome losing streaks on their way to becoming champions.
Of course, a losing streak is not the indication of a champion. Rather, the resolve demonstrated and the effort exerted to overcome the adversity as well as the lessons retained from the experience reveal the true colors of a team.
“It shows if your team is going to come back with heart or if they are just going to fall down,” said cornerback Chris Houston. “I believe that this team has grown closer because everybody is holding themselves accountable more than just blaming it on other areas. Everybody’s got to pick it up and step it up and it makes us focus more in the classroom, focus more on walk throughs and focus more in practice… I think the adversity has brought us together more.”
As the Lions attempt to navigate their way through the murky waters of a two-game losing streak they will show the world what they are really made of – one way or the other.