When you think of the Lions’ 2011 season, one of the first images that leap to your mind is most likely Ndamukong Suh’s Thanksgiving Day stomp, but there were plenty of other incidents that were cause for concern. Not even head coach Jim Schwartz was immune from having a hilarious and inappropriate lapse in judgment. But the idea that a young football team has discipline problems is not exactly shocking. The thought was that tumultuous season would be a learning experience, and in 2012 the Lions would grow up.
So far it isn’t going so well.
Back-up offensive lineman Johnny Culbreath was arrested for smoking marijuana in a Country Inn & Suites, Mike Leshoure was arrested twice for marijuana possession in the span of a month, and Nick Fairley was pulled over for speeding in early April. What did the police find in his car? If you guessed marijuana, you win! It isn’t my goal to criminalize smoking weed, that’s an entirely different topic. But at some point you figure Schwartz is going to have to gather the team around and say: “great practice today, also please smoke in your house.”
These four arrests were not the end of the Lions strange offseason however, as last week second year wideout Titus Young sucker punched a teammate during practice and has now been banned from the team’s facilities. How long will the ban last? The team has not released any details on that front. Perhaps a greater question is when is Doug Hogue going to get drunk and crash his car or abuse his girlfriend? Vegas should start taking bets as at this point he is the only player from the Lions’ 2011 draft class to not get in some kind of trouble.
In the NFL, and sports in general, we make an assumption that when a team is young and talented that eventually they will get over the hump. We make an assumption that a few years down the line when rookies turn into veterans and all the pieces fit there could be a championship on the horizon. We forget that history is filled with teams that, for a variety of reasons, just never get there. This is not to say that the Lions won’t, it’s just a reminder that youth and talent does not entitle you to anything besides a bunch of money and a chance.
What’s the best part of the Lions’ offseason so far? Probably their best player, Calvin Johnson, on the cover of Madden.