He arrived in 1985, four years before Barry Sanders was drafted. He departs as the team seems to be ready to finally make a run at its first Super Bowl berth.
Defensive assistant Don Clemons, 58, is retiring.
“Don Clemons has been one of the great contributors to the Lions organization,” Lions president Tom Lewand told the team’s official website. “He has served nine head coaches, and particularly in our business, that tells you what kind of person and what kind of worker Don Clemons is.
“Nine head coaches have seen his value as a person and as a football coach, and I do it in that order, because as good of a coach as he’s been for us, he’s been a better person.”
Clemons has coached every position on defense during his time with the team.
So why now? “Well,” Clemons said, “Dick Modzelewski, who I worked with when I first started here, he had played and coached for a long time and he retired the third or fourth year I was here and I asked him, ‘Dick, what are you retiring for?’ and he said, ‘You just know, and when it comes you just look around at the people and know its time to let someone else do it.'”
Hopefully, if the Lions win the Super Bowl this season, they’ll let Clemons have a ring.