Saturday, August 13, 2005

Who Was That Masked Man Wearing #91? Not Robert Porcher

I’m not sure who it was wearing #91 for the Lions during last night’s exhibition opener against the Jets, and frankly, I don’t care. All I know is that it wasn’t Robert Porcher, and so as far as I’m concerned, it shouldn’t have been worn, period. At least not this soon, anyway. Maybe not ever again.

Porcher, who retired last season after 13 years as a Lion, was by far the best defensive lineman the team had during his time here (1992-2004). He was also one of the biggest contributors to the metro area, from a charitable standpoint, as any athlete around town. He rarely complained, and allowed his contract to be reworked a few times so the team could sign other players. Anything for the good of the team, Porcher reasoned.

Porcher was the best d-lineman in Detroit from '92-'04

So now they would casually give his number to someone else? In the first freaking exhibition game since he retired? My goodness, the body isn’t even cold yet.

Look, I know there are still tons of players in camp, which means you use up a lot of numbers, but last I knew, there are 100 possible numbers that an NFL player can wear (0-99), and even with the few numerals the Lions have retired, that still leaves well over 90. And the team couldn’t have found one that wasn’t 91 for that lineman to don in Friday night’s game?

Maybe you don’t agree with me that Porcher’s number should be officially retired, joining the likes of Bobby Layne, Doak Walker and the rest, but the Lions could have still honored him by not handing out his 91 so quickly. It just struck me as untoward that someone else should wear 91 so soon after Porcher wore it with so much consistency and pride. This is certainly nothing against the young man who wore the number last night -- and I really should get his name -- but he can’t possibly, at this stage of his career, so much as carry Robert Porcher’s jock.

I remember when the Lions did the same thing to Alex Karras’ #71. He was released during camp in 1971, and within weeks a young man named Bob Tatarek was wearing the same number that Karras wore so brilliantly between 1958-70. That bothered me, too.

I hope I’m not the only one who found the sight of #91 running around the field and it not being Robert Porcher as offensive. I hope someone around the Lions realizes this catastrophic mistake and corrects it, before the home exhibition opener next week.

Until then, whoever you are that was wearing the jersey last night, no offense, but you can never be the REAL 91.

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