I recounted one anecdote yesterday about getting to meet Charlie Sanders and talk a little football with him. After practice was done, I also got to see a lot of the current players and hear their banter back and forth with the fans, as well as talk with some of them myself (while the little pink lions were intent on getting the autographs of everyone from Cliff Averil to John Standeford. If they were wearing a uniform, the girls would flutter the eyes, give a smile, and shout could you sign this please!!).
Drew Stanton and Daunte Culpepper came over to where we were at by the fence (which came about waist high on me.) and they were signing autographs and chatting. Drew signed my brother’s State hat (he’s an alumni) and my nephew’s football. At the same time, Daunte Culpepper was a few feet down, tlakign with fans.
“6 wins?” someone called out. “Going for 8-8?!” another person shouted in reply.
“Why no one saying division champs?” Daunte bantered back good hearted. “I mean, why put a cap on wins? We want all the wins we can get our hands on! We’re Greedy!”
“So you’re saying division champions? Is that a prediction?” a different person shouted out
“Not predicting, just saying why not? I just saying we going to win as many as we can. Could be more than 8. No capping the win totals here.”
It was a very interesting exchange, and all done with a very light, almost teasing tone on both sides. But you could tell looking at Daunte that he meant it — and Drew was agreeing with him right along. It occurred to me — why ARE we capping the win expectation? After all, even though the odds may be against them at this point, don’t the players go in with the mindset they are going to win the game each and every game? Besides, don’t the odds change as the season progresses — nothing is different about their chances of beating, say, Green Bay on Thanksgiving (other than injuries) than there is right now. But if the Lions go into that game with 7 wins, don’t you think they’ll be given better odds than if they go in with 2 wins? And that those odds at 7 wins would be far different than they are today.
The players will be the same. The coaches the same. But the games will be in the books and it made me think even more than on any given Sunday…any team can win. That got blurred in our minds after the aberration that was 2008, and even the dreadful end to 2007. But that axiom still holds true — more, now that ever. It just took some banter from Daunte with the fans to remind that is the true excitement that drives us to watch the game, and the players to play it.
It was a pretty whirlwind experience being along the fence rail as the players came by. Some (like CJ) had to rush to media sessions. Others just wanted to catch as quick lunch as there were meetings, a bite to eat, and the second half of 2-a-days at 1pm (the practice ended at about 11am). Despite that, quite a few players stopped for one or two autographs, and some tried to talk with everyone they could.
Saw quite a few current players, and the girls got autographs from: Cliff Avril, Landon Cohen, DeWayne White, Alama-Francis, Daniel Loper, Jeff Backus, Damien Cook, John Standeford, Jon Jansen, Bryant Johnson, Keary Kolbert, Nick Harris (yes, the girls were really excited to get the punter’s signature — it was one of their favorite parts of practice! Didn’t get to meet Hanson, but really wanted to), Stuart Schweigert, and Sean Conover.
while they were signing things, and posing for pictures, a few players would chat with us fans. John Standeford said he’s “excited for the chance to be in camp and compete.” Jon Jansen, in response to a fan, said it’s “great to be back in Michigan, and I look forward to winning with the Lions.” Cliff Avril, in response to a fan asking how he like the new defense, he just smiled and said “double digits everybody.”
Speaking of defensive ends, DeWayne white actually stopped and talked and joked for a couple of minutes. He said he loves the new defense and thinks there will be plenty of opportunity for all the linemen. He also said he was looking forward to a healthy, hard hitting season. (I think on the opportunities, he was referring to the fact that Schwartz, even with Haynesworth, heavily rotates his DE’s and DT’s using essentially 2 starters for each spot rather than a starter/backup type situation. So even if it looks like Avril may play the same side as White on the depth chart, don’t be surprised if they both get double-digit sacks in an aggressive defense that keeps them fresh through the whole game.)
IAF didn’t say a whole lot as there were a lot of fans around at that point, and I didn’t get a chance to talk to Landen Cohen — however, IAF has definitely bulked up or he just looked skinny in pictures last year. I’m guessing he’s bulked up, as he wasn’t so lanky anymore, but more solid. Cohen was nothing short of a brick wall moving about. He is one big guy.
Speaking of big guys, the funniest bit came when Daniel Loper and Jeff Backus came up at the same time. As a guy who is just shy of 5′7″ and 200lbs, you don’t realize how big guys like Backus and Loper are up close. For my youngest daughter, who came to about Backus’ knee if was even more pronounced. She looked at his knee, and then did the whole kid thing where she kept leaning back as she cranked her head up to try to see him and almost fell over. Once she could see them she shouted out “Daddy, are those Giants?!?” Daniel Loper was laughing really good and Jeff Backus said “No, Giants live in New York. We’re Giant Lions!” and leaned down toward her with his hands up like he was going to pounce. Of course, all three Pink Lions laughed outrageously and have been saying ever since “We got to meet giant Lions people”.
Jeff also was positive about the offense, and a chance to “knock defenses back for a change.” He and Loper did make a formidable looking pair. Time will tell on the field for how that works out on the field.
I tried uploading pictures, but I’m still getting used to this new web-blogging format. They will be up tomorrow evening.
Tags: Bryant Johnson, Cliff Avril, Damion Cook, Daniel Loper, Detroit Lions News, Detroit Lions Training Camp 2009, DeWayne White, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Jeff Backus, John Standeford, Jon Jansen, Keary Colbert, Nick Harris, Sean Conover, Stuart Schweigert