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10 Athletes That Left Detroit Too Soon

By: Jeff Riger

What a shock, Ndamukong Suh is leaving the Lions.

Nobody is surprised nor should they be, Suh didn't want to be in Detroit and the Lions sure didn't do their part to make sure the defensive tackle was around as long as possible.  The whole situation is actually pretty sad as the team and their fans are losing the best defensive player we've seen and for nothing.

Could the Lions have traded him?  When did they know they couldn't re-sign him?  Why did they restructure his deal over and over?  Why didn't they draft Aaron Donald?  The whole thing stinks of mismanagement and frankly the Lions failed their fan base and themselves yet again.

Of course this isn't the first time that Detroit lost one of their own and believe it or not it's not even the toughest loss that this city has had to endure.  Many athletes have left the area that has left the fan base in disarray.  Whether guys were traded, left via free agency or even retired too soon, Suh doesn't top the list but he definitely makes the top 10.

In an effort to make Lions fans feel better, I give you Detroit's top 10 toughest losses.  Sure the loss of Suh is tough, but it's not the toughest, not even close.


  1. Nick Lidstrom

The only reason Nick Lidstrom makes the list is because you know he had to of had something left.   After giving two decades of exceptional play to the Wings, it's hard to get upset that he didn't feel he had what it took to be the best anymore.  It's actually admirable.  Instead of trying to hang on and see his level of play decline, he decided to hang it up before it got to that point.  I believe Lidstrom was the best defenseman ever to play the game and to see him call it quits was tough.  The day was going to come when he retired, it had to, but one more season would have been great.  Who am I kidding?  Nick was so good that no matter when he retired it would have been too soon and very tough.

  1. Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson and Jack Morris

I figured these 3 guys deserved to be lumped together despite not leaving the Tigers at the same time.  All three players were a part of the 1984 Tigers, the last Detroit baseball team to have won a World Series.  When a team wins it all and people believe they should have done it more than once it's always tough.  Of course Gibson and Morris winning it all several times more with different teams didn't help either.  The fact that all three men eventually came back to the team in some capacity really doesn't help.

  1. Grant Hill

The only reason Grant Hill isn't higher on this list is because the Pistons ended up winning a title after he left.  Hill was a superstar in this city.  Detroit drafted him, he was fantastic in college and he was damn good on the court.  Sure there were injuries and playoff knockouts but watching Hill leave was tough.  It didn't make it any easier that it was his decision to bail.  Some washed up radio guy sitting next to me believes Hill should be in the top 5 so it's debatable. Come on!

  1. Ben Wallace

At the time when Big Ben bolted it was very tough.  Wallace was loved, was the face of the "Going to Work" Pistons and he choose to go to the Bulls of all teams.  "Fear the Fro" ended up making a lot of money as Chicago was able to pay him more than the Pistons which in the end was OK.  It was almost the end of an era, it is doubtful the Pistons would have won another title with him and shortly after Wallace left, the rest of the core of those memorable teams followed.  To this day in Detroit, I'm not sure there is a more beloved athlete than Ben Wallace?  Chauncey Billups being traded needed to be mentioned as well.

  1. Doug Fister

Doug Fister could very easily be higher on this list if it wasn't for the automatics that come before him.  Fister was traded to the Nationals for essentially nothing and stands out as one of the few bad trades that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has made.  Whatever the reason for the Fister trade was, it didn't make it easier to see the former Tiger go 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA.  Fister even finished in the top 10 last season for Cy Young consideration.

  1. John Smoltz

Listen, I don't think the John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander was that bad.  Yes, Smoltz turned out to be one of the greatest pitchers of all time and that's hard to forget.  However at the time the Tigers needed another starting pitcher to get to the playoffs and while Alexander was nowhere to the caliber of a guy like Smoltz he did go 9-0 after the trade with an ERA of 1.53.  Without Alexander the Tigers probably don't make the playoffs in 1987.  The only reason I put Smoltz on this list is because I knew people would be outraged if I didn't.

  1. Max Scherzer

With people saying that the Tigers window for winning a championship is closing it was extremely tough to see Max Scherzer walk out the door after the 2014 season.  The constant rumors, agent speak and fading hope sure didn't help the situation.  With Scherzer heading to the Nationals, Tiger fans lost more than a key pitching in a depleted starting 5.  They also lost some belief that the usual spending of money might be coming to an end as well.  Of course if Scherzer and Fister win a World Series this season with the Nationals, both of them could catapult to even higher on this list.  Now that would be tough, real tough!

  1. Ndamukong Suh

I think the first couple paragraphs covered just about everything I would have to say about Suh.  Suh leaving is so tough, but I told you he wouldn't top the list.

  1. Sergei Fedorov

Where do you start with Sergei?  The reason Sergei bolting was so tough is because he was so good and in the prime of his career.  He had won a Hart trophy and 3 Cups with the Wings and to see him walk out the door was extremely disheartening to just about everybody that has ever heard of Detroit.  Who knows how many more cups the Wings could have won if he stayed?  Some people say Sergei's career declining after he left was sweet revenge for them.  Some fans got excitement by booing him when he came back to the Joe.  As for me, I just always wondered how much he regretted the decision he made on July 19th, 2003.  I have to believe he does!

  1. Barry Sanders

Enough said!  No surprise here!

So there it is…

The list of Detroit top 10 toughest losses.  Who did I miss?  Who got snubbed?  Let me know.  Maybe it will help, at least for now get over the loss of Suh.

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