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An open letter to Eric Ebron

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Hello, I believe we’ve met before.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry about the “Open Letter” format. It’s tired and played out, but I’m not the most creative of writers, and this format fits what I want to convey here. Hopefully my self-awareness of the cliche at least earns me some brownie points.

Dear Eric Ebron,

I wanted to reach out to you after your clapback in response to our semi-snarky tweet:

First and foremost, let me say: well done. It’s a good tweet, and in a lot of ways, we had it coming. This will not be a post declaring you immature or out of line responding to us. We clapped, you clapped back. That’s more than fair.

But this will not be a waving of the white flag, either. Instead, I want you to see that Detroit’s relationship with you is more complicated than you seem to believe.

You see, I’ve long been a fan of yours. When you were drafted, I certainly rose an eyebrow, but I’m not cocky enough to believe I can run an NFL front office better than most people that currently hold the job.

If anything, Eric, you were a victim of your position. A tight end at 10th overall was a hard sell no matter the prospect. Some tried to peg you as the next tight end/wide receiver combo. The next Jimmy Graham. Some bought in. Some didn’t. I, like I always try to do with the draft, played the waiting game. The one thing that was—and still is—impossible to ignore is your supreme athleticism, which is bottled up potential just waiting to be used.

Your career in Detroit never took off like it was supposed to. There were flashes here and there, and I think that fed into the fans’ disappointment and downright anger. We all saw what you were capable of, but it never fully came together in Detroit.

Then the drops happened. You can deny they happened if you want, but they happened. Were they blown out of proportion? Probably. Did they also cost the Lions key downs in crucial moments? Absolutely.

In your final year in Detroit, Ford Field was beyond the point of no return with you. I hated it. I hate any time fans boo their own players, but it was completely over the top with you. They’d boo you for passes you had absolutely no chance of catching, then they’d crack jokes at the expense of your own infant child on Twitter.

And while you occasionally responded via the media or Twitter, I admired you for working through it. I sometimes have trouble with the criticism I get, which is just a tiny fraction of what an NFL player is subject to.

But you put it all behind you, set aside the trade rumors in 2017 and put together what was your best string of games at that point in your career. I was excited. You were justifying the Lions’ decision to exercise your fifth-year option and even making a case for an extension. I wanted everyone to know.

And guess who saw this tweet, too:

So when the Lions made a pretty surprising move to cut you a week into free agency to save $8.25 million, I wasn’t happy and I wrote about it.

“The move has made the Lions undoubtedly worse, and they did it so late in the free agency game that there’s no real chance they adequately fill Ebron’s role.”

This was and is undoubtedly true, and the Colts have made that abundantly clear. Maybe the rumors are true and you essentially forced the Lions to cut you, but I don’t much blame you for that. You were in a home filled with people that had rejected you, and it was clear you weren’t reaching your potential in Detroit, even if things were improving by the end of 2017. A change in scenery seemed apt.

Although it may not seem like it, Eric, there were a lot of people that felt like me, too.

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So I was rooting for you in Indianapolis, and you almost immediately made an impact. Five touchdowns in your first five games. Some have and will continue to downplay your accomplishments. You’ll see plenty talk about your increased targets or the Colts’ scheme making you look better than you actually are. But screw those people. You just set the single-season touchdown record for Indianapolis Colts tight ends. That’s a hell of an accomplishment regardless of context. You earned it, dude.

So why did I tweet out the admittedly snarky tweet? Well, first of all, it wasn’t really a criticism directed at you. The drops in Detroit happened, and they still continue to happen in Indianapolis. Though drops are not an official stat, FOX Sports currently has you at five drops, the fourth-most in the league. You’ve been near the top of that list several times throughout your career.

So when an announcer refers to a drop of yours as a “rare drop,” I had to call it out. I call out bad announcing literally all the time, and most of the time it has nothing to do with taking shots at former Lions players.

Now, I’m not naive. I knew that this would play well to a Lions crowd, and that absolutely went into my decision to tweet it. I’m a whore for retweets. We all are. I’m guessing that’s why you quote tweeted us instead of just replying.

As for your accusation that we’re obsessed with you, I would use a different word. I am absolutely interested in you and your future.

Some Lions fans think it’s best if we all move on and ignore you for the rest of your career. I do not believe that’s healthy. I believe that’s shoving our collective heads in the sand.

The truth is your success is Indianapolis is a direct indictment of the Lions organization and their collection of coaches and players that failed you. You certainly had your part in the reason things went wrong in Detroit—you admitted as much this offseason—but the fact that the Colts were able to get so much out of you immediately should absolutely be relevant to Lions fans willing to look the truth in the face.

So yeah, we tweet a lot about your Pro Bowl-esque season. We tweet about the good things. We tweet about the bad things. It’s all because the Lions’ decision to cut you was a significant choice, and it’s absolutely worth revisiting as you continue to build your resume elsewhere.

And I’m still rooting for you. I gain absolutely nothing from your failure, and, if anything, I gain more from your success. There’s nothing I like more than being right, and you balling out in Indy is a rare occasion in which I look like I was on the right side of history.

But I know you, Eric. I covered you for four years in Detroit, and I even interviewed you one-on-one two years ago. You need this drama in your life. You need to hear and address the hate out there, because it helps you thrive. And if that’s what you need to continue having the year you’re having, go ahead and keep doing it. Just realize that not everyone is out there to take you down, even here in Detroit.

Best,
Jeremy