Looking back on the Detroit Lions’ history with the 7th overall pick
We are very near to the 2021 NFL Draft. We’re officially a week away. So while every writer from here to Timbuktu is writing gamer profiles like I did at Jaylen Waddle earlier this week and mocking drafts, it’s time for me to ponder the things that don’t interest anyone. It’s time to do what I do best. Random thoughts about past events that have no bearing on the future. It’s fun.
With this in mind, Lions have the seventh overall selection in this year’s draft. I thought it would be nice to look back at the team’s history with the seventh pick and see how they fared. Perhaps a look at their past could give a tiny clue as to whether the lions are on their way to the seventh heaven or the seventh circle of hell. Let’s jump right in.
1937: Lloyd Cardwell
The Lions had only been Lions for one season at this point. They needed a halfback because that was all the team did back then. You ran the ball like 90 percent of high school soccer teams. Cardwell was at the University of Nebraska in Charleston listening to the hit that hit every club that winter.
It was at this point that he received a call to go to the 1937 National Football League Draft and Luncheon at the Lincoln Hotel in New York City. Yes, I added the lunchtime part. It only makes sense to me that the NFL was so small back then that they had lunch in the middle of draft. Probably a cooked goose or something.
Cardwell played for the Lions for seven years and was a pretty decent player. During this time there were 1,837 all-purpose courts and 13 touchdowns. So basically what Derrick Henry does in half a season. Still not bad. Cardwell’s greatest fame is that he was named an NFL All-Star in 1938. After leaving the Lions, he trained at the University of Omaha and even led them to a 10-0 season, winning the Tangerine Bowl.
1939: John Pingel
The Lions were ahead of their time in 1939. They tried to be the first team on the NFL team that was all halfbacks. This time they took a boy from their hometown in John Pingel, Michigan.
Pingel didn’t stay in Detroit too long. You see, children, back then, professional athletes were paid like part-time fast food workers. I don’t mean part time like “Jimmy only works four hours a day”, I mean part time like “Jimmy works two hours on Saturday mornings and that’s it.”
Seriously. The first overall selection in the very first NFL draft just three years ago has never played in the NFL. He was offered $ 125 to $ 150 per game and decided to take a job as a foam rubber salesman instead.
Pingel stayed nine games and retired from football. He was later the CEO of a large advertising company.
1967: Mel Farr
Who doesn’t love Mel Farr Superstar? My parents loved him when they rented a Ford Explorer from him in the 90s. Marvin Gaye loved him so much that he made him and Lions teammate Lem Barney Backup sing to one of the greatest songs of all time: What’s Going On? Detroit loved Mell Far and Mel Farr loved Detroit.
Farr played seven seasons for the Lions and made a great impression. He won the 1967 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and made the Pro Bowl twice and All Pro once.
1987: Reggie Rogers
This is the culmination of sad stories. Some players don’t have the talent and end up being flamed. That was not the case with Rogers. He was a great player at the University of Washington. He was an All-American and won the Morris Trophy for best lineman in the country.
When he arrived in the NFL, he struggled with emotional issues in his rookie year and spent some time in a counseling center after his older brother died of an overdose just 10 months before draft. In its second season, he fell into a car drunk, killed three teenagers and broke his neck. The Lions renounced him and spent a year in prison.
Rogers’ battle against alcoholism resulted in his delving into many issues of the law and ultimately contributing to the end of his life at the age of 49.
1990: Andre Ware
Widely regarded as one of the largest busts in NFL Draft history, the Lions took then-Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware in seventh choice. Four years and 14 games later, he was no longer in the league. Ware just never found out. Maybe it’s because he didn’t have the talent, or maybe it’s because the Lions treated him like Darko Milicic and never played him.
The best year of his run with the Lions was 1996 when he threw 590 yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. It’s not that bad at all. Wait, that’s with the BC Lions in the CFL. My mistake.
2004: Roy Williams
That’s it. This was the last time the Lions had the seventh choice. They took a recipient, just like this year.
Williams got a lot of hype from Texas. He was a decent recipient even for a minute. In 2006 he was Pro Bowler and headed the NFC in receiving shipyards. If he’d ended his career right there, it would have been a success.
As we all know, it would never reach that altitude again. Perhaps the best thing he’s done in his NFL career was making Cowboys owner Jerry Jones look stupid for giving the Lions a first, third, and sixth round pick for the recipient. Anytime you can make the bad guy from The Last Boy Scout look bad it’s a win for everyone. The Lions turned that first-round selection into eight productive years for Brandon Pettigrew. Not too shabby.