Joe Schmidt: Lions need to experience winning to get 'the flavor' of it

Posted Jul 6, 2013

Schmidt knows what it takes to build a championship-caliber team and what the this current Lions team needs to do to get there

The Detroit Lions are among four NFL teams who've never been to a Super Bowl. Cleveland, Jacksonville and Houston are the others.

The team does have a championship history, though. They won the NFL championships in 1952, 1953 and 1957.

Joe SchmidtJoe Schmidt

Former Lions Hall of Fame linebacker and coach Joe Schmidt was a member of those 1953 and 57 championship teams. He says that the adoption of the Super Bowl has led some to forget about the championship teams of the 50s, but the organization does have a winning past.

"Back then, we were the cream of the cream, so to speak," Schmidt told "(The Lions) won in 1952 and 1953 and were in the championship in 1954 and won it again in 1957. In 1962, we were one game from going into the championship.

"The Super Bowl has given you a different perspective on football altogether. Back then, television wasn't as alive as it is today and there wasn't the coverage as there is today. Pro Football is the No. 1 athletic contest in the country, and as a result, people watch it more than they would ordinarily."

As a championship player, and then a successful coach (his 43-35-7 record stands as one of the best winning percentages in team history) from 1967 to 1972, Schmidt knows what it takes to build a championship-caliber team and what the this current Lions team needs to do to get there.

"I think they are starting to get the good players, but you have to experience (winning) one time in order to get that flavor and then you understand what you're going after," Schmidt said.

"Until you experience that and get that in your blood and everybody understands what we have to do in order to get there ... here they're just climbing up the hill, so to speak. They are almost to the top, but the last 50 yards or 100 yards is very difficult."

Some could look to the 2011 season when the Lions won 10 games and made their first playoff appearance since 1999 as reaching the top, but that team didn't beat any of the premiere teams in the NFC along the way. They didn't put their signature on the league.

That, according to Schmidt, is the important next step.

"It's like building a puzzle," Schmidt said. "You put these pieces together and hopefully they'll all mesh and you get a championship team.

"Once you get there and experience it it's easy to go ahead and coach and it's easy to go ahead and play because you know exactly what you have to do."