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A Born-Again Team In Renaissance City
Paul Zimmerman
December 07, 1981
Third-string Quarterback Eric Hipple has revived Detroit, moving the Lions into a tie for first in the NFC Central
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December 07, 1981

A Born-again Team In Renaissance City

Third-string Quarterback Eric Hipple has revived Detroit, moving the Lions into a tie for first in the NFC Central

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Last year the Lions were unequipped for the early success that came their way. They won five of their first six, and then struggled home 9-7. Their theme song, Another One Bites the Dust, became a rallying cry for opponents, who rose up and crushed Detroit's playoff hopes at the end. A badly crippled offensive line didn't help, either.

"The situation's entirely different now," White says. "This year when we were losing, we were still playing well. We lost four games in the last minutes [to San Diego, Minnesota, Denver and Washington]. We felt we'd break out of it; it was just a matter of getting ourselves together. We didn't hold any players-only meetings or anything like that. We'd tried them last year and they didn't accomplish much. Everyone knows what's going to be said—'We've got to do this, we've got to do that, good things will happen if we start winning.' You know the routine.

"This team reminds me of the playoff teams I was on with the Colts, especially the '75 team. We started off 1-4, but all of a sudden we caught fire and won our last nine in a row. I've got that feeling here now. We're getting hot at exactly the right point in the season."

Around Detroit the people are working mightily to promote a Super Bowl image. At games in the Silverdome, writers in the press box are deluged with propaganda designed to convince them that holding Super Bowl XVI in the Detroit area isn't as funny an idea as one might think. They're plugging Super Bowl fashion shows, something they call a Super Crawl, a Super Ball, RENAISSANCE CITY, BORN-AGAIN METROPOLIS, proclaims a giant foldout flier.

The Lion players certainly don't mind the big buildup. It means more chances for endorsements, for speaking engagements. And if, by some strange chance, they wind up looking at Supe XVI from the inside—why, that would be O.K., too.

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