FAN: Open Letter to James Stewart

OPEN LETTER TO JAMES STEWART: Thank you for giving three years of your career to the Detroit Lions. Thank you for rushing 713 times, for 2,890 yards, 15 touchdowns, and a 4.1 yard-per-carry average. Thank you for catching 101 passes, for 862 yards, and 4 more touchdowns.

Open Letter to running back James Stewart by Lions' fan Doug Warren. Stewart was placed on injured reserve earlier this week, thus ending his season, and likely his career in Detroit.

Thank you James Stewart.

Thank you for giving three years of your career to the Detroit Lions. Thank you for rushing 713 times, for 2,890 yards, 15 touchdowns, and a 4.1 yard-per-carry average. Thank you for catching 101 passes, for 862 yards, and 4 more touchdowns. You are now the 8th leading rusher in Detroit Lions' history, despite having played in the two worst back-to-back seasons in the franchise's 73 year history.

Your 1,184 yard season in the year 2000 is the greatest single-season yardage total ever for a Lion back not named Sanders or Sims. The same goes for your 10 rushing touchdowns that year as well. You were not flashy like Barry or Billy, you just did your job, and you did it well.

I wonder how many of your naysayers know that you led the Lions in both rushing and receptions last season? "So what!" they say. "The team only won three games!" How many times have you overheard people say that "your style is not fit for this offense?" I always laughed when I heard that. Was Earl Cooper the ideal fit for Bill Walsh's San Francisco 49ers when they won their first Super Bowl in the Silverdome on January 24, 1982?

Well, he certainly wasn't Roger Craig, nevertheless, he was good enough that year to help the 49ers win it all. If you are productive . . . you are productive. Isn't that the bottom line? I always felt you were put behind the eight ball from the moment you arrived in Detroit because you were the man pegged to replace Barry Sanders. I always thought that was unfair. You know as well as I do, that no one could live up to that. No one should be expected to live up to that. Barry Sanders was Barry Sanders, and there will never be another Barry Sanders. Just as there will never be another Bobby Layne. Hell, it's been 45 years and counting, and they still haven't found someone to replace ole' number 22.

To your credit though, you never complained. You just went out and did your job. Sure you missed a few games because of injury, but again, that's the Barry Syndrome a lot of fans can't seem to shake. Here come those voices again. . . . "Barry was never hurt," they said. "Why can't that damn Stewart stay healthy like Barry did?"

First of all, Barry was a freak of nature, a bionic plastic-man in cleats. Nevermind that you had to run behind an offensive line that was in constant rebuilding mode. At least Barry had a couple of Pro Bowlers in Lomas Brown and Kevin Glover to run behind for most of his career.

The NFL is a tough business. You know that better than anyone. I can understand why the Lions decided to do what they did. I think probably, in time, you will too. However, I am positive you have something left in that tank of yours. I look forward to seeing you on the field again someday.

Thank you James Stewart for your time as a Lion, and best wishes to you and your family. You deserve it.

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