Jerome Felton: If Vikings lose to winless Lions, ‘that would not look good on a resume’
Former Vikings, Lions fullback recalls Minnesota/Detroit rivalry
One of these days, the Detroit Lions just might win a game. But Jerome Felton hopes it won’t be on Sunday.
The Lions are 0-10-1 heading into the game against the Vikings at Ford Field. They’re in jeopardy of producing a second winless season in 14 years after finishing 0-16 in 2008. Felton was a rookie fullback on that Detroit team but he will be rooting Sunday for the Vikings, a team he played for from 2012-14.
“You definitely don’t want to be that team that gives up a win (to Detroit),” Felton said by phone from his home in Sandy Springs, Ga. “That would not look good on a resume. But I think I’ll ride with the Vikings this week, and hopefully (the Lions) will get a win outside of that game.”
Felton played in the NFL from 2008-16, including a 2008-10 stint with the Lions. He started six of the 13 games he played in 2008.
“I do feel for those guys now in Detroit,” he said. “I know that feeling when you’re almost always in games but then you find a way to lose them. When you’re on a team that goes 0-16, everybody thinks that everybody is terrible but, honestly, you can’t say that (about the 2008 Lions). We had (hall of fame receiver) Calvin Johnson and some other pieces, but we just couldn’t put it together. It was a long, tough year. We would just always find ways to lose at the end.”
In 2008, the Lions lost five games by eight points or fewer, and their two closest games were against the Vikings. Detroit lost 12-10 at the Metrodome to fall to 0-5 when Minnesota’s Ryan Longwell made a 26-yard field goal with 9 seconds remaining. Then they lost 20-16 to the Vikings at home to drop to 0-13.
“I’ll never forget that one at the Metrodome because that was the one Dan Orlovsky ran out of the back of the end zone,” Felton said of the Lions quarterback losing track of where he was and stepping out of the end zone for a safety.
The Vikings (5-6) don’t need to be reminded about Detroit being competitive this season. The Lions have lost three games on last-second field goals, including a 19-17 loss to the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 10 when Greg Joseph made a 54-yard field goal on the final play.
“We know they’re a good football team,” Vikings receiver Adam Thielen said of the Lions. “They’ve been in every single game. … We can’t just show up on Sunday and expect to win.”
Felton. 35, will be cheering for Minnesota on Sunday because he had his best years with the Vikings, making the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season. He also was a scouting intern at Vikings training camp in 2018.
Felton enrolled at Emory University Law School in Atlanta this fall. He had been in the restaurant business, owning a Poke Bar franchise in Sandy Springs until he sold it in 2020 and set his sights on law school.
“Law school was always my backup plan if I didn’t make it in the NFL when I got out of college,” said Felton, a fifth-round draft pick by Detroit in 2008 out of Furman. “The restaurant business was hard, and I decided to go for it (in law school). There’s so many different opportunities to use the law and to affect people’s lives and make an impact in society.”
Felton hasn’t decided what type of career he will seek when he graduates. However, he would be interested in working in an NFL front office.
“In my ideal world, I definitely would like to find my way back to the NFL at some point,” he said. “So that’s 100 percent on my mind.”
Felton has kept in touch with the Vikings organization, and his advice for Sunday is simple. Don’t be the first team this season to lose to Detroit.
“Nobody wants to be that team,” he said.
The Vikings, seeking potential depth due to Dalvin Cook suffering a shoulder injury, worked out running back Kerryon Johnson, who was on San Francisco’s practice squad for three weeks earlier this season. He rushed for 1,225 yards with Detroit from 2018-20. … In a 34-26 loss at San Francisco on Sunday, Justin Jefferson became just the second Vikings player to have 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first two NFL seasons. Jefferson, who has 67 catches for 1,027 yards, joined Randy Moss, who did it in each of his first six seasons from 1998-2003.