Lions fans are trying to come to terms in various ways with the latest in a string of extracurricular activities by Lions players that have put a negative spotlight on the team. Of course, I am talking about the six offseason arrests of four different players for various substance-related charges, most recently Aaron Berry for DUI.
Some people are putting the blame on Berry and Berry alone, suggesting he should be cut to set an example. Some say it runs deeper, to Schwartz and a lack of discipline or unequal discipline. Before Fairley's second arrest, I thought it was more of a minor distraction and not much more. I shared a few laughs with fans on these boards. With the last two incidents being of a more serious nature, it's become a worrying trend. Why? Because players we need to play are missing games due to suspensions, and somehow the message about how players need to conduct themselves is not getting through.
What would you do if you were running this organization?
If I were in charge of the organization, I would have called in the widow of Mario Reyes at the end of OTAs, to speak to the team as a whole. Mario was the guy who stepped in front of the Bentley Dont'e Stallworth was driving drunk in South Beach. He died, Stallworth pleaded guilty and was incarcerated, and spent a season suspended without pay by the NFL. I think a message like the one Reyes' widow could deliver would go a lot farther towards curbing these behaviours than any punishment the team or the league could dole out. For his part, Stallworth was remorseful, paid a price, and has been bouncing around the league ever since. He has to live with that stain on his record and on his conscience.
It will be a while before the team is all back for training camp, so what should management be doing going forward? Please, something proactive. Something showing some leadership, something more than just rehashed press releases each time it happens.
Tom Lewand needs to be subject to a little more scrutiny here.
I think that Mayhew and Schwartz are in a tricky position throughout all of this though. Their boss, Lewand, had a DUI and in my view, didn't pay a very steep penalty for it. Many (most?) players will know that history, so it would come across as hypocritical for Mayhew or Schwartz to lay out for the players what is acceptable and what is not in this organization. Lewand kept his job, didn't do any hard time, and missed less than a month of work (though it did cost him $100,000 to the league).
Lewand needs to man up and lead the change. Maybe he could show some video to the team of his embarrassing arrest for DUI. Talk about the effect that whole episode had on him and the team. Stop saying things like he said in the media a couple weeks ago: "On how the Lions have handled the arrests internally (from Detroit Free Press): We have handled it. Part of the way we handle it is we don't keep talking about it. It's not an epidemic."
Maybe it is Tom. Your move.....