Taylor Decker hadn’t spoken to the media since he suffered a finger injury that cost him the first half of the season. On Monday after his 2021 debut against the Steelers, Decker finally spoke, and he expressed what appeared to be months of built-up frustration with the media.
“Frankly I feel like the narrative of negativity surrounding my name, all year pretty much, has been bullshit,” Decker said. “I don’t feel like it’s been deserved.”
Decker is referring to the talk over the past couple months questioning his toughness and wondering if the Detroit Lions should consider trading him. With how Penei Sewell performed at left tackle in Decker’s absence, many fans and media outlets suggested that the Lions may be better off moving Decker to right tackle or getting rid of him completely. Decker clearly took that personally.
“The media pretty much all year has been pretty negative around me. I’m not going to act like I like that,” Decker said. “I think it was bullshit. I’ve played a lot of football here and I think I’ve played well. That’s that.”
He’s got a point, too. Decker has played like a top-10 left tackle for the last two years and even had a sack-less streak that was second-longest in the NFL towards the end of last season, stretching from December of 2019 to November of 2020. The Lions started Sewell at right tackle for a reason; they already had their starting left tackle, and everything they have stated has been in full support of Decker.
Then there was the noise about his injury. Some questioned Decker’s toughness after the finger injury caused him to miss two months. This was always a ridiculous claim, considering the injury required surgery, but Decker detailed just how serious the fracture to his hand was.
“I had a full-spiral fracture that rotated and shortened. I had to get five screws and a plate put into my hand,” Decker said. “So, you know, they told me three months, and I’m playing at two months. I did everything I could to get back out on the field, and frankly, it was insulting people acted like I just didn’t want to play and wanted to be out for the entire season.”
Decker also provided some insight into his initial attempt at a comeback. Decker returned to practice on October 13, but it only took one rep in team drills before he re-injured it badly, causing additional damage to the UCL joint in the knuckle, and setting back his return another month.
“We couldn’t see it on the MRI because there’s so much metal in there that you couldn’t read the MRI,” Decker said. “But my hand blew up, it was very swollen, I lost a lot of mobility that I had gained in my hand, so then at that point, it’s like, ‘All right, we need to let this thing calm down and then we’ll try again and get you back out there.’”
Even now two months after the surgery, Decker admitted he doesn’t have full mobility of his hand, but he called his debut on Sunday “solid.”
Decker admitted that all of the hate he was getting is sometimes part of the job, and scrutiny is just part of the business when you’re compensated well. But the frustrating part for him was having to deal with friends and family sending him articles suggesting his professional career could be in jeopardy when that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
“I shouldn’t have to talk to my parents about whether the team and the city that has become my home is going to trade me or get rid of me,” Decker said. “I shouldn’t have to talk about that. I just think it’s kinda ridiculous. Like I said, I think people in this building and a lot of the fanbase appreciates me, and I do think they know what I can bring to the table. But for some reason—and I’m not saying it was 100 percent of the media—but a lot of the media was hammering this narrative of basically to get rid of me when I want to be here and I want to help turn this organization into a winning organization. I’ve said that from day one and I’ve never faltered on that and I’ll never understand why. Nobody will be able to explain to me why and it’s just frustrating.”
Decker intimated that the Lions never once approached him about moving him to right tackle or trading him or that his future in Detroit was at risk. And after a solid offensive line performance on Sunday with him back in the lineup—resulting in a season-high 229 rushing yards—perhaps we can put these “Decker is a trade piece” discussions to bed.
Decker’s press conference can be viewed below: