Detroit Lions defensive end Mike Daniels knows that having a career in the NFL is a blessing, and it’s a blessing worth fighting for. That’s why he treats every day as an opportunity to prove himself and takes nothing for granted.
“When you come to the NFL you work so hard, you just give everything you’ve got,” Daniels said at Wednesday’s Detroit Lions Kickoff Lunch. “Every single day, you walk into that building and say, ‘They’re not going to cut me. I’m not going to get cut. I’m not going to get released. I’m going to make it hard for them.”
But right before Daniels was going to walk into the building in Green Bay for training camp this season, he was cut. After seven years of proving himself with only the Packers, Green Bay unceremoniously released him, leaving him jobless as all 32 teams were ready to start training camp.
Like with most things, Daniels saw it as an opportunity, not a reason to put. And when the Lions came calling, suddenly the release from the Packers wasn’t a bad thing at all.
“When it happened, when I saw I had an opportunity with the Lions, I said, ‘Man, I’m glad I got cut,’” Daniels said to an audience of Lions fans among the Detroit Economic Club.
At the start of training camp, Daniels gave plenty of reasons for jumping at the opportunity to play for Detroit, but his main draw was playing for Matt Patricia.
“He’s just a genius, he really is,” Daniels said back in July. “He understands the game of football, he knows what it takes. To be able to play for a coach like that, it means everything.”
It also helps to have Matthew Stafford finally on his side, a guy Daniels said he was sick of losing to.
“I’ve lost in this building plenty of times to Matt Stafford—a lot—and in that place in Wisconsin,” Daniels said, throwing some subtle shade by not saying the words Green Bay. “So, being a guy who has actually went against him a lot and lost a lot, I’m very excited to be on this team.”
So once Lions general manager Bob Quinn got Daniels in the building—and former Lions guard T.J. Lang did a little recruiting—it was pretty easy to hammer out the details.
“The great thing about Mike was once he got in the building, he didn’t want to leave,” Quinn said on Wednesday. “It happened really fast and I kinda knew at that point when we were talking that it was probably going to happen in the next hour or so and then it did.”
So now that Daniels has had a month with the team, finally gotten on the practice field and is just over a week away from his first NFL game in a Lions uniform, he’s clearly excited to get things started. And he left guests at the luncheon giddy with his final interaction with Lions radio play-by-play announcer Dan Miller.
Dan Miller: “You’re motivated, aren’t you? You’re really motivated.”
Mike Daniels: “You’ll see how motivated I am.”
I’ve got chills.