He’s snarky and snippy. He is slimy and arrogant. Aaron Rodgers is also very good at his craft. He is Detroit’s biggest current sports villain. I am willing to say he is Detroit’s only sports villain today.
What do Detroit Lions fans want more tonight in the final game of the regular season (8:20 pm) in Green Bay? Do they want to beat Green Bay and end the Packers road to the playoffs? Or do they want to beat Rodgers and knock the smirk off his face?
Of course, Lions fans want to see their team win and advance into the NFL playoffs. We just don’t know if that’s possible yet. Folks in Detroit will be on pins and needles until the Los Angeles Rams-Seattle Seahawks game is decided.
The Rams need to take care of business
If the Rams win, the Lions are gifted a trip to the playoffs if they beat the Packers. If Seattle wins, the Lions could earn their first winning season since 2016. Why is Rodgers the villain these days?
Rodgers gave the Lions no credit for their first victory in Detroit. He threw his hands up and said the Packers “cannot lose to that team.” He owns the NFC North. Rodgers has beaten the Lions with 300-yard passing games. He’s beaten them on off days, and he has beaten them with Hail Mary’s.
“I feel like they don’t respect us,” Lions safety DeShon Elliott said. “A-Rod doesn’t respect us, that team doesn’t respect us. We’re used to being the underdog. No matter what the record says, we’re going to go out there, and we’re going to fight our ass off, play smash mouth football just ’cause the respect factor. We all got here some way, somehow. Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer, but I just don’t like the way he’s been talking about my guys all year and the way that team views us, so we’re going to go out there and prove something.”
Rodgers is a heel and a bum. Maybe he makes your all-time Detroit villains list, but he does not make mine. Here are my five biggest villains in Detroit sports history.
Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
This man not only took the championship mantle from the Pistons, but he smashed it along the way. On his way to first Eastern Conference championship in 1991 he told the world that the Pistons were bad for basketball and undeserving champions.
The words stung for a once proud franchise. The words also prompted the NBA to change rules to assist in his quest to become king of the hill.
Larry Bird, Boston Celtics
He fought with the Pistons Bill Laimbeer and Isiah Thomas. And he stuck the Pistons with nasty three-point daggers while talking trash to the Pistons.
Bird also led a walk off against the Pistons that nobody talks about.
Claude Lemieux, Colorado Avalanche
I was one of a handful of reporters who interviewed Lemieux the night he broke Red Wings forward Kris Draper with a cheap and cowardly check into the boards that broke Drapers orbital bone, check, and jaw.
Lemieux laid on a training table and showed no remorse, didn’t care if Draper recovered, and was so uncaring. The Red Wings said his lack of civility as much as the hit sparked one of the greatest rivalries in sports between the Red Wings and Avalanche.
The hit led to the most important regular season game in Red Wings history. On March 26, 1997, Red Wings forward Darren McCarty got revenge for the entire city when he pummeled Lemieux at center ice. Lemieux needed a police escort whenever his team visited Detroit.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby played well and complained even more. My biggest problem with Crosby was during the time the Red Wings were on a four Stanley Cup binge, Crosby became the apple of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s eye. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, he scored the game-winning goal in the gold medal game for Canada against the United States. I was assigned a first-person story in Windsor. More than one person told me they were happy to see Canada win, but why did that jerk have to score the game-winning goal?
Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers
He started The Malice at the Palace in 2004 after he charged the stands after being hit in the chest with a cup of beer. Artest fouled Piston center Ben Wallace from behind with less than a minute remaining in a Pacers blowout. Wallace shoved him back, and this began the worst fight in NBA history. Fans threw debris at charging Pacer players. Several players were charged with assault. Artest was suspended the rest of the season and lost nearly $5 million in salary.
The black eye hung around Detroit as it was billed as a classless and thuggish city by the national media, even though The Brawl took place in Auburn Hills.
I went to Indianapolis the following season, and Artest (AKA Metta World Peace) told me he’d be willing to play for the Pistons. That never happened.
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