It finally happened. The Detroit Lions won an NFL title.
No, you’re not hallucinating. The Detroit Lions really did win an NFL title, and they did it in July. The trick, of course, is that the NFL title in question is competed by players far younger than those who strap on NFL helmets on Sundays.
As reported by MLive.com and a handful of other outlets, the Detroit Lions-sponsored prep 7-on-7 squad emerged as the victors of the annual NFL High School Player Development 7-on-7 National Championship. The event was played at the Cleveland Browns’ training facility in Berea, Ohio, as it traditionally has been.
In the championship game, the Lions-sponsored squad topped the Miami Dolphins team by a score of 24-14. That’s particularly notable because the Dolphins-backed team had won the prior four straight 7-on-7 national championships, no big surprise given the talent base that the Dolphins squad can pull from in South Florida.
If it seems like the Lions team fully cast off the yoke of the burden of being a Detroit squad, it’s pool play record indicates that may not have fully been the case; the Lions finished the event’s “regular season” 3-4, a losing record that would appear pretty familiar for most Lions fans from recent years.
"When we got there, we weren't the best team," Kyle Guster, one of the 7-on-7 players from Saginaw, Mich, told MLive. "Sometimes our offense was off. Sometimes our defense wasn't doing what it should do. It was a lot faster than playing against kids from around here.
"A lot of the teams were filled with Division 1 players. In the playoffs, we changed up our defense a little bit. We went to a Cover 2, and they put me in the middle. We started getting a lot of picks."
Those picks were worth three points per pick, helping this Lions squad pull together as the event went on and eventually emerged with a “historic” title, as much for knocking off the Dolphins squad at the national 7-on-7 event as for winning an “NFL title” of sorts for the Lions franchise.
Roughly half of the victorious Lions 7-on-7 squad is eligible to return to the tournament in 2014, raising the possibility that the Lions could start a Dolphins-like run of their own. That might not be too likely, though a second-straight national 7-on-7 title for a Michigan squad will still probably be a lot more likely than a Super Bowl crown for either the NFL Lions or Dolphins.