Of the seven players left in the league who went 0-16 with the Detroit Lions in 2008, three will have their chance to taste Super Bowl glory on Sunday night. One of the more notable, memorable names from that group is Paris Lenon, a linebacker with the Denver Broncos.
Lenon played with the Lions for three seasons (2006-2008) and in that time he never missed a game, starting all 48. Over three seasons, Lenon collected 220 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one interception, and was one of the more steady Lions statistically during that time. Since then, Lenon has played for the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals.
On Monday afternoon in New Jersey, Lenon explained to reporters, among them MLive's Kyle Meinke, how he managed to survive 0-16 and all the ugly tumult that went along with it.
"I'll say this: when you're in a situation like that, you have a certain amount of guys that pack it in," (Lenon) told reporters Monday during a news conference aboard the Cornucopia Majesty ship that is docked in Jersey City. "That's difficult for me because I'm not that type of person. I'm going to compete to the end, so that's the most difficult part of being in a situation like that."
Considering only seven players have survived the purge of the team to lose the most games in NFL history, suffice it to say that only the strong have survived. While in Detroit, Lenon was always setting a good example for teammates, playing hard and playing tough. The fact that he played all sixteen games of a winless season plenty missed should not be viewed as a resume blemish, but rather an enhancement. When faced with adversity, Lenon refused to give up or shy away from a challenge.
Sunday night, that example will serve the Broncos well as they play the biggest game of the season. No matter what comes in that contest, don't expect Lenon to let his Denver teammates quit. Championship teams are built around such players. Not only did Lenon survive the worst season in NFL history, he survived the failed XFL and four other stops in the league. That's not easy to accomplish.
Lenon's time in Detroit should serve as an inspiration to his teammates and Lions' fans. Instead of being jealous of his post-Detroit accomplishments, give him credit for surviving. He was a model citizen in Detroit, and a consistent competitor. A tough mindset has now allowed him to reach the pinnacle of his profession, and the lessons learned from adversity with the Lions have helped him.
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