Black and Blue all over: Curse nears expiration

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
If you believe in curses, this week is big for you. Because one of the all-time hexes in sports is about to expire.

As the Detroit News' Bob Wojnowski details in this entertaining column, the Lions are poised to emerge from a 50-year hex allegedly dispensed by quarterback Bobby Layne on the day he was traded to Pittsburgh. On Oct. 6, 1958, Layne supposedly said the Lions "would not win for 50 years."

The Lions had won the 1957 NFL championship. But since trading Layne, the franchise has made only nine playoff appearances and won only one postseason game. Wojnowski brings readers up to date on the failures, tragedies and other "unfathomable" events over that span.

The Lions will be burdened for one more game, Sunday's matchup against Chicago, before the curse is lifted. In a twist of hope available only in Detroit, Wojnowski writes:

In a few days, the Curse of Bobby Layne will be gone, too, which supposedly will lift the shroud and allow the once-proud Lions to frolic again with football's best. Laugh if you must. But if you've never believed in curses, it wouldn't hurt to start now.

Jaunting around the NFC North on a Thursday morning:

  • Lions receiver Roy Williams is hoping to "exploit" the Bears' injury-depleted secondary on Sunday, Davis Haugh of the Chicago Tribune writes.

  • Cornerback Nate Vasher is not expected to play Sunday after having a surgical procedure on his right hand, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. Fellow cornerback Charles Tillman missed practice Wednesday because of an injured shoulder.

  • Minnesota quarterbacks Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson combined for 274 gross passing yards Sunday at Tennessee. Amazingly, that was the Vikings' highest total since coach Brad Childress took over in 2006. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune did the research.

  • Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes the Vikings are typically successful when they have at least 30 carries in a game. They are 8-1 in those games over the past two seasons.

  • Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers (sprained shoulder) alluded to the possibility of taking pain-killing medication in order to play Sunday against Atlanta. Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has details.

  • Mike Montgomery will get the first opportunity to start at right defensive end for the Packers after the season-ending injury to Cullen Jenkins, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.