It turns out two defensive assistants have exited the coaching staff of the Detroit Lions this offseason. The first, Brandon Fisher, departed to work with the St. Louis Rams, which hired Jeff Fisher, his dad. The other defensive assistant to exit is Don Clemons, who decided to retire from coaching on Friday. Tim Twentyman spoke with Clemons about his decision to walk away from the game.
"Well, Dick Modzelewski, who I worked with when I first started here, he had played and coached for a long time and he retired the third or fourth year I was here and I asked him, ‘Dick, what are you retiring for?' and he said, ‘You just know, and when it comes you just look around at the people and know it's time to let someone else do it.'"
Clemons, who is 58 years old, was with the Lions for an astounding 27 years. This means he was with the Lions while they had nine (!) different head coaches. He worked under Darryl Rodgers, Wayne Fontes, Bobby Ross, Gary Moeller, Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron, Rod Marinelli and Jim Schwartz from 1985-2011.
During the course of his career with the Lions, Clemons held the following job titles: strength and conditioning/defensive assistant (1985-87), defensive assistant (1988-91), outside linebackers (1992-94), linebackers (1995), defensive assistant/linebackers and cornerbacks (1996), defensive assistant/assistant strength and conditioning (1997), defensive assistant (1998-99), defensive assistant and linebackers (2000), defensive assistant/quality control (2001-02) and defensive assistant (2003-2011).
It says a lot about a guy that despite all of the turnover, he remained with the Lions for that long. Best of luck in retirement, Don.