Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Lions' Whistle Blowers Probably Not Long For Detroit -- And Can You Blame Them?

When Alex Karras was a rookie defensive tackle for the Lions in 1958, he was surprised that he made the team, because he played so poorly.

"I was always drunk," Karras said.

Seems Alex was quarterback Bobby Layne's personal rookie whipping boy/drinking buddy/chauffeur that summer at Cranbrook.

"Bobby would toss down 10, 15 Cutty Sarks a night," Karras told the Free Press' George Puscas years later. "And he'd make me drink with him. Then I'd have to drive, or he would drive, and once I saw him put a brick on the gas pedal and we're speeding down the freeway and he's singing 'Ida Red,' hanging halfway out the car.

"He would only require an hour or two of sleep. So I was either drunk or sick that entire training camp," Karras recalled.

Ahh, the good old days.

We don't know what form of mental or physical abuse new Lions head coach Rod Marinelli has inflicted upon his troops -- which led to the team being disciplined by the league for violating rules regarding offseason workouts. Chances are, however, that they didn't involve players being forced to toss down whiskey and practicing with hangovers.

So we know what the violations weren't.

One of Marinelli's assistants demonstrates a portion of the new offseason preparation program

Whomever took their concerns to the league offices is, in my mind, traversing a slippery slope. But that's nothing new for a franchise that always seems to operate with the rest of the football world tilted against them.

But it's impossible to fully understand the gravity of the consequences of the complainant(s) until the actual nature of the violations are revealed. And nobody seems to want to talk about it.

Marinelli's "I love the smell of pads crunching in the morning" philosophy is probably exactly what the Lions need, but if he did, indeed, go overboard, then I suppose there should be ramifications.

But there also will be the same for the player(s) who raised the issue. Can you imagine the cross-eyed looks in the lockerroom? The players who have spoken publicly -- Dre Bly, Roy Williams, and Marcus Pollard, to name three -- all seem unified in thinking, "Hey -- have you seen our record lately?"

So it's unlikely the whistle blowers will present themselves without some degree of discomfort.
If you think that complaining about the offseason conditioning/preparation program is rather odd behavior from any player employed by a franchise that hasn't won the Big One in 49 years, well there you are.

The NFL Players Association will do whatever they can, of course, to keep the identity(ies) of the plaintiffs unknown. But it'll come out -- one way or another. Maybe we'll find out in a form of process by elimination -- as in training camp cuts, or trades. Chances are, whomever blew the whistle probably ensured themselves a ticket out of Detroit.

Maybe they're not so dumb after all.

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