As many outlets have reported, the Lions have been docked two days’ worth of OTA practices for CBA violations. Specifically, the Lions’ OTA practices exceeded allowed limits for tempo and contact. This might sound familiar—indeed, the Lions lost two OTA days due to fiesty practices back in 2006, as well. Guessing which player had filed the NFLPA grievance turned into a favorite parlor game for Lions fans, bloggers, and newsmedia.
Ultimately, ProFootballTalk.com reported that Marcus Bell had blown the whistle on Rod Marinelli and the Lions coaches.* At the time, most observers belonged to one of two camps:
- “If there’s dissension in the ranks, Marinelli’s ‘Pound the Rock’ message is already falling on deaf ears. ”
- “GOOD! Those lazy goldbrickers need to be whipped into shape! Let ‘em whine, the wheat will be separated from the chaff.”
Of course, Marinelli was trying to make an impact. He was touting himself as a hard worker, a motivator who demanded his player be motivated. His mission was to cut out the deadwood and have 53 rowers all swinging their invisible pickaxes in harmony, or something. That all 53 weren’t buying in right off the bat was troubling; wasn’t Rod supposed to be able to get a cat to want to run through a brick wall? It seemed an ill omen for building a truly cohesive unit.
So, what are we to make of this? Jim Schwartz, the Grandmaster? The one whose intellectual approach and meticulous preparation made his name legend amongst the football dorks of the Internet? How could he be so careless as to violate the rules, even as the Ravens, Raiders, and Jaguars had already been caught? Indeed, Paula Pasche of the Oakland Press just finished blogging about how Schwartz is too smart, and too careful, to violate the OTA guidelines (and contradicting PFT’s fingering of Marcus Bell in the process).
Nick Cotsonika also just posted a piece explaining the creative lengths Schwartz and company are going to stay on the right side of the law. Apparently, these lengths weren’t creative enough—or, possibly, were they too creative? Did a player, or player, decide that flipping and catching a tire was the football equivalent of cruel and unusual punishment?
More importantly, what does this mean for the Lions and their team chemistry? This isn’t a lazy, underperforming group going into their first practices under a hardnosed taskmaster. This is a talented young team, handpicked by Mayhew and Schwartz for their New Era Of Awesome Lions. Who’s not buying in? Who’s so disgruntled with Schwartz that they’d go to the NFLPA? Could this be a sign of the upcoming CBA-pocalypse? Is this whistleblowing the first shot in the upcoming labor war between Lions players and Lions management?
No. You see, in the wake of years of tacit, wink-nod slides from non-contact, to kind of a little contact, to mostly-full-speed OTAs, the NFLPA is now reviewing tapes of OTAs. Apparently, the tempo and contact crossed the line. There was no whistleblowing. There is no dissent. The Grandmaster’s plan is still intact, ready to be executed . . . he’ll just have fewer days to tell the players how to do it.
*UPDATE: At the time of writing, I wasn’t aware that PFT’s report wasn’t the final word on the issue. Corrected the language to reflect this.