The Lions' potential success holds significant meaning for Tony Scheffler

Posted Aug 5, 2011

Growing up in Chelsea, Mich., tight end Tony Scheffler was a Detroit Lions fan from the time he was a little boy.

He played wide receiver at Chelsea High School before moving on to tight end at Western Michigan University. He was drafted in the second round by Denver in 2006 before a trade between the Broncos and  Lions in April of last year brought Scheffler home to Detroit.

"It definitely means a lot to me being here at this time," he said. "Being a part of the process of getting back on track."

Scheffler gets emotional just talking about the team's potential this year.

It's not that he hasn't experienced the thrill of a playoff run. The Broncos were at or right around .500 all four years he was there, just missing the playoffs in 2008 when they lost a tiebreaker to San Diego.

What gets Scheffler choked up is his experience as a Lions fan. Growing up in the Barry Sanders era, Scheffler watched the talented Lions contend but fall short.

"Hopefully we will get this team in the playoffs and do some special things for the state and for the city," he said. "It’s special to me."

With an arsenal to spread the ball around, the Lions are definitely a different team compared to the one he saw growing up.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford can pick his weapon. Scheffler, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew and Jahvid Best were already a dynamic group, but now rookies Titus Young and Mikel Leshoure will be out to contribute.

The talent is there.

The question that looms is whether the Lions will live up to the hype.

"If you get caught up listening to stuff on the outside, it can get you too high or too low," said Scheffler. "Obviously the critics in this city have been here for awhile.

"Now if they do want to give us some recognition, we’ve got to be even-keeled and focus on the team. We need to keep getting better and doing what we’re doing.”