If you haven't heard about this story by now, then prepare to be amazed, in a bad way. Lions assistant coach Joe Cullen, who is in his first year with the Lions as defensive line coach, was arrested twice in the last two weeks. That's not even the worst part. The two arrests do not seem to be connected at this time, but both are serious offenses to a mental extent.
The first arrest came on the night before the Lions preseason game against Oakland (August 24th). The actual arrest was for indecent and obscene conduct as Cullen was driving without any clothes on. New reports are saying that he was not wearing any clothes while driving through public streets and a drive through.
The second arrest, which came just a week after the first, was for drunk driving as a blood alcohol test revealed that Cullen had a BAC of .12, which is over the legal limit of .08 in Michigan.
This isn't the first time Cullen has experienced an arrest involving alcohol. In early 2005, he was fired from the University of Mississippi due to an alcohol-related charge in a restaurant. Cullen rebounded and was hired by the University of Illinois shortly after, and then was signed by Rod Marinelli and the Lions during this year's offseason.
Set to be on the sidelines as an assistant coach for the first time in the NFL, Cullen may now have to wait for that chance. Reports are that Cullen will be suspended for the season-opener this weekend against Seattle. If he is suspended, an interim defensive line coach will be in his place.
When the story first surfaced yesterday, Cullen released this statement:
Cullen has requested treatment as whatever problem he has appears to need professional help. You know that time in life where you hit rock bottom? I think that moment has come for Joe Cullen, and the wake up call is on its way.
Bond was posted for both incidents and Cullen was even on the practice field throughout this week. As stated earlier, the reports are that he won't be on the field Sunday, but should be back sometime next week. I think he needs to go and take care of this whole problem and not worry about football until then. Plus, if someone is committing these acts, should he really be making decisions regarding anything in the NFL?
The Lions shouldn't necessarily go and fire the guy because the problem is deeper than that, but they should've been more careful when hiring him in the first place. Mississippi Athletic Director Pete Boone has stated that the Lions never contacted him for a reference. You would think all former employers would be called when hiring someone for a NFL job. In regular, every-day jobs people make all of the calls possible to ensure 100% satisfaction with a new hire.
This comes as another embarrassment to the Lions organization as a whole, and really is not needed just days before the first game of the 2006 season. Distractions are the thing the Lions players should be least concerned about, and already that's going to be hard to do.
During practice today, Rod Marinelli was asked several times about the whole situation with Joe Cullen. His reply to most of the questions was the same: "I'm not going to talk about Joe, ok."
If Mr. Cullen can get the help he obviously needs, then I hope to see him on the sidelines again someday. But, if another incident occurs when he's on the Lions staff, then I think it will be time to part ways with the assistant.