Any football fan will admit that, if forced to choose between having players who performed badly on the field or behaved badly away from it, they’d take the latter in the flash of a stun gun.
And so for the fans of the Lions, who have gone from being 0-16 to having players assigned jailhouse numbers that possibly include 0, 1, and 6, there could be far worse things than having multiple players who are getting in trouble with the law. But it’s starting to become a bit of problem, with 2011 first-round draft pick Nick Fairley and 2011 second-rounder Mikel Leshoure now having two legal entanglements — each — during the offseason.
Our buddy Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press chronicles the (alleged) crime spree, and he bravely calls it like it is, despite the fact that the Lions are the only team he covers. For example: “Of the Lions’ five-member 2011 draft class, only Doug Hogue has successfully avoided drama this off-season, which begs the question, what exactly did the Lions see in him?”
Beyond Fairley and Leshoure, seventh-round tackle Johnny Culbreath was busted for marijuana posssesion, and second-round receiver Titus Young (who perhaps would benefit from the mellowing effects of marijuana) was barred from OTAs for busting a teammate, Steve Smith style. To make matters worse for Young, Birkett writes that the second-year wideout was lollygagging during Phase One of the offseason program, when most of the coaching staff was absent.
Still, the strength and conditioning coaches were allowed to participate, and it’s on them to light a fire under all players. Young clearly has an edge to him; someone with the organization needs to get his attitude harnessed and refined and pointed in the right direction at the right times or he’s going to end up being yet another high-round pick that the Lions wasted on a receiver.
All things considered, these are far better problems to have than a roster full of players who can’t get out of their own way between the white lines. Veteran leadership and proper coaching discipline will be critical to getting this team to the Super Bowl — and to keeping multiple members of it from playing for the Mean Machine.