The Detroit Lions’ new regime—led by coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes—has been widely praised for their first year on the job due to their ability to connect and communicate with players. Their authenticity and openness have been praised by media, players, and analysts alike.
But former Lions offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby painted this administration in a very different light in a conversation with the Detroit Free Press about a messy injury situation with the team last year.
The story begins back in May of 2021. Holmes had just drafted Penei Sewell, and there was a report from ESPN that Crosby was subsequently on the trading block. A few weeks later, the Lions opened up voluntary organized team activities, and Crosby did not show up. While many speculated that Crosby was upset over the trade rumors, the offensive tackle claimed otherwise, stating he was simply homesick after essentially quarantining during the 2020 season, which had extremely strict COVID-19 policies.
Crosby alleged that everyone from Campbell to Holmes to then offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn held that decision against him. From the Freep story:
At minicamp, Crosby said then-Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn chided him during drills about missing OTAs for being “afraid to compete.” He said Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes called him into the office last spring “pretty much saying how I’m bad for the team because I walk around like I don’t care about my teammates, the city of Detroit, the staff members when that’s everything of those are like the furthest from the truth.”
Things escalated during training camp when a hamstring injury held Crosby out for most practices and the preseason. It was then, according to Crosby, that he complained about back pain. Those concerns were largely ignored or dismissed. The pain continued and he was even reportedly fined $5,000 for missing a weight room workout when Crosby says he was receiving treatment for the back.
It was around this time that the Lions suddenly fired lead trainer Dave Granito—a decision that was never fully explained by Campbell.
“I don’t really want to get into details why,” Campbell said. “I can tell you this, our guys were getting proper treatment, it was nothing like that.”
However, the problems didn’t stop there for Crosby. A few weeks later, he made his preseason debut in the finale, and the Lions waived/injured him three days later. Detroit offered a four-week injury settlement, but Crosby turned it down and sought medical opinions from an independent physician. There, it was revealed via an MRI that he had a degenerating back condition. That road eventually led him to spinal fusion surgery in December—a procedure he is still recovering from and could threaten the rest of his career.
The entire ordeal has left Crosby frustrated with the Lions organization, and he gave the Free Press some damning quotes.
“I would go out of the way for anybody in that building, and then to realize, ‘Oh, they actually just treat you like a genuine piece of meat and they don’t — they act like they truly don’t care.’ It’s so disheartening, and I hear from like other guys around the league that it’s, most teams aren’t that way. And so you start to understand, ‘Oh, this is definitely something that starts from the top down.’ It sucks.”
“I wouldn’t want to play for that organization just knowing what I know now and just how poorly they treat their players.”
The Lions declined to comment on the story, so we will likely only hear Crosby’s side of these events. Though it’s worth noting this isn’t the first time the Lions have been criticized for mistreatment when it comes to medical treatment. Since his retirement, Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson has lobbied several complaints about the team’s medical staff.