The last time the Detroit Lions used a first-round draft pick on a quarterback, the year was 2002, the quarterback was Joey Harrington, and the team didn’t have to struggle for long before the fans turned on him.
Now that the Lions have used another first-round draft pick on another quarterback, and the team’s fortunes haven’t improved, one Lions player who’s been in Detroit for all of it is asking the fans to have more patience.
Lions center Dominic Raiola, who snapped to Harrington and is now snapping to Matthew Stafford, is pleading with the fans to be patient with Stafford while the Lions struggle through another miserable season.
“He’s the guy here,” Raiola said. “I was very disappointed when I came to the sideline and fans were telling him, ‘Throw it to me’ and ‘I’m open’ — this, that and the other. I popped off and said something to the fans. . . . He’s not going to say nothing. I’m going to say something.”
It’s good that Raiola wants to stand up for his young teammate, but it’s probably not a wise move to “pop off” to the fans — especially for Raiola, who was fined $7,500 last season for giving the finger to fans at Ford Field. For his part, Raiola just says he doesn’t want Stafford to get the Harrington treatment.
“I’ve been through it with Joey,” Raiola said. “I’ve been through it. They sent him packing. Quick. And they’re not going to do it to this guy. I’m going to be right here next to him.”
Ultimately, the fans will start to cheer Stafford just as soon as the Lions start to win. After Sunday’s loss to the Rams, it’s looking like it’ll be a while.