When the Detroit Lions lost in the NFC championship game at the end of the 1991 season, Brett Favre was still an unknown rookie with the Atlanta Falcons. The Green Bay Packers traded for Favre a month later, and that's a big reason the Lions didn't make it back to the NFC title game until this week.
A lot has changed since the Lions lost 41-10 in their last NFC championship game appearance against Washington (including that franchise's nickname). Let this sink in: The World Wide Web wasn't released into the public domain for another two years and three months. Also, Washington tight end Don Warren played in that NFC championship and will turn 68 years old in May. Only two members of the 2023 Lions team (defensive lineman Tyson Alualu and long snapper Jake McQuaide) were even born in January 1992.
Things around the NFL were slightly different the last time the Lions made it this far in the Playoffs (THREAD 🔽🧵) pic.twitter.com/o6lhloT4rl
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) January 25, 2024
Here are just a few of the pop culture, news and sports happenings around the world on Jan. 12, 1992, when the Lions last reached this stage of the NFL playoffs:
Michael Jackson had the No. 1 song: Jackson's "Black or White" was the No. 1 song on the Billboard charts. Featured in the video was "Home Alone" star Macaulay Culkin, who was 11 years old at the time.
The No. 2 on the charts was "All 4 Love" by Color Me Badd. M.C. Hammer had two songs in the top seven: "2 Legit 2 Quit" and "Addams Groove." Sandwiched between those at No. 6 was Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The day before the Lions played in the NFC title game, Nirvana was the musical guest on "Saturday Night Live." Rob Morrow, known for his work on the TV show "Northern Exposure," was the host.
Here's another way to think of the music scene back: Snoop Dogg's first appearance on a record, with "Deep Cover," didn't happen until 1992.
You might not remember the No. 1 movie: The top grossing movie that week was "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," a thriller starring Annabella Sciorra and Rebecca De Mornay. A couple months later, "The Silence of the Lambs" won Best Picture at The Oscars.
"Roseanne" was the top sitcom: The top show in the Nielsen ratings was "60 Minutes," which isn't that much of a time capsule, considering that the venerable news show is still on CBS. But the highest rated scripted show that season was "Roseanne." Behind that were "Murphy Brown," "Cheers" and "Home Improvement."
Johnny Carson was still the king of late night: Carson was in his last year hosting "The Tonight Show," a show he first hosted in 1962. Jay Leno would take over as the permanent host four months after the Lions played in that NFC title game. Leno's final time hosting "The Tonight Show" was Feb. 6, 2014, almost 10 years ago.
People were playing on Game Boys: The Lions losing the NFC championship game came just a few weeks after Christmas, and in December 1991, the Nintendo Game Boy was among the five hottest Christmas gifts, according to PinkNews. The Sega Game Gear was also a top gift, making it a big time for handheld gaming consoles. There was a battle between Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo for home gaming consoles.
The video telephone debuted: There was a time when video calling was unheard of. But on Jan. 7, 1992, that started to change. AT&T debuted the VideoPhone 2500 with a 3.3-inch LCD screen and camera lens, via CNN. It cost $1,499 to buy. That way, Lions fans could see each other over the phone as they complained about the loss to Washington.
In the sports world: The week the Lions lost the NFC championship, Duke basketball was the No. 1 ranked team. It was led by Christian Laettner, who then played a 13-year NBA career and retired a little less than 19 years ago. Laettner is now 54 years old.
Also that week, Sports Illustrated (with Muhammad Ali on the cover) published a profile on figure skating champion Tonya Harding, who was about three years from becoming a household name due to an attack on competitor Nancy Kerrigan.
There was one NBA game on Jan. 12, 1992, as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Orlando Magic behind 31 points from Byron Scott. The Magic got no help from Shaquille O'Neal because he was still a junior at LSU. In the NHL world, Wayne Gretzky had a couple of assists in the Los Angeles Kings' 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
And finally: The average price for a gallon of gas the week after the Lions last appeared in the NFC championship game was $1.19.