Just like everyone else these days, I have been scouring every place I can think of to find out what the Detroit Lions players and coaches are doing during the lockout. Many people may point to the players missing voluntary team practices, but one thing that Lions fans can't complain about is how involved this organization is in the community.
I was recently reminded of this when I read an article by Marcus Hayes of Phillynews.com. The premise led me to think it was just going to be about how the Philadelphia Eagles were considering adding Plaxico Burress to their team. However, it struck me more to be about the lack of player involvement in the building of a new playground for the children in Kensington, Pennsylvania.
Jeffery Lurie is the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. He was present at the 15th annual event where the Eagles team up with a youth organization to do something specifically for the kids in Pennsylvania. Lurie and a bunch of Eagle employees were out in the community creating a safe place for kids to play.
Yet not one player showed up.
Maybe the lockout situation muddied the waters for the players since they likely knew it was possible that the owner would be there. Maybe it was just too hot out. Maybe this was an anomaly since players like Donovan McNabb and Mike Mamula have participated in this event in the past.
Whatever the reason, I have yet to hear of a Lions-sponsored event that that the players have not shown up for.
It is often talked about how Detroit looks for high-character guys. Much of a player's character is measured by what he does off the field as much as what he does on it.
The Lions have struck gold in this department.
We all know there is a lockout in place, yet even rookie DT Nick Fairley joined his teammates and coaches for the annual Detroit Lions charity golf tournament this week.
Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Drew Stanton both participated in the event, as well as several other players. It is hard not to mention that former Detroit Lions cornerback Dre' Bly, who seems to be showing up everywhere the Lions are these days, was there too.
Wide receiver Derrick Williams is co-hosting a NFL vs. NBA "Celebrity Softball Game" with Detroit Piston Charlie Villanueva to raise money for their mutual non-profit programs, "Mealz on D. Wheelz" and "Charlie's Angels." This event (happening this Saturday) and others the two hold throughout the year raise money to promote healthy eating and anti-bullying programs to schools in Detroit.
Williams is not the only Lions player signed up for this event, even though it is touted as the NFL vs. the NBA. Cliff Avril, Aaron Brown, Lomas Brown, Nate Burleson, Louis Delmas, Bryant Johnson and rookie WR Titus Young are all in the lineup.
Once again, a Lions rookie is showing up with his teammates to raise money for organizations that benefit local communities in Michigan.
When I spoke with former Lions fullback Corey Schlesinger earlier this year at a basketball fundraising event, he stated that he participates in 15 to 20 events a year himself as a representative for the Lions.
This very different offseason doesn't seem to have impacted the Lions' commitment to their fans or to the Michigan communities that support them. They are still making a difference all over the state of Michigan regardless of the uncertainty of their own futures in the NFL.
I take my Lions hat off to the players and coaches who continue to show us what "high character" really means.