At some point we have to accept that where there is smoke there is fire, and there is a lot of smoke blowing around the Detroit Lions right now. They have been called dirty by fans since the start of the 2010 season, and it seems like each week this year that reputation continues to get bigger.
In Sunday's 37-13 loss at Chicago, the Lions' frustrations boiled over to the point where there was a benches-clearing brawl and Bears cornerback D.J. Moore felt like Matthew Stafford was threatening his career.
From John Mullin's article on CSNChicago.com:
The Bears had intercepted quarterback Matthew Stafford three times already in the second half and Stafford, being blocked by nickel back D.J. Moore, took exception and flung Moore to the ground using only Moore’s facemask.
Moore came up furious and went after Stafford as the benches emptied and multiple fights broke out. Moore was penalized and ejected; Stafford was not reprimanded via penalty flag.
“If you’re going to grab my helmet and threaten my career, I’m going to come after you,” said an unapologetic Moore afterwards. “You have to do something. When you are going after my livelihood, my neck, and you’re trying to hurt me, I just can’t let that go.”
When all the talk about the Lions being dirty started, it was hard not to sweep it under the rug.
The NFL has become a game where it is so difficult to be physical because all the rules have been skewed so greatly towards the offense and a finesse style that anything slightly aggressive could be considered dirty.
But as this season has moved on and more incidents have occurred, it is hard not to think that something is off with the water in Detroit.
This has become a part of the culture and swagger with the Lions, and it is going to result in someone getting seriously hurt.
When you have someone throwing an opposing player down using just his facemask, you are asking for trouble.
Given the way the Lions have played over the last 60 years, they needed a new attitude for people to respect them and take them seriously. However, they have veered off course and need to get control of the wheel.
You can be physical without being dirty. The Steelers have done it for nearly 40 years. The Ravens have done it for the last decade. The Lions need to find a way to channel that aggression to make it work for them and stop trying to bully opponents just for the sake of bullying them.
Right now, the Lions are headed down a dark path that is going to result in a series of fines, suspensions and serious injuries to opposing players.