Angry eruption on the sideline does not mean the Lions are imploding


A video emerged after the Detroit Lions 29-22 loss to the Green Bay Packers that showed a confrontation between cornerback Kerby Joseph and injured teammate C.J. Gardner Johnson.

Defensive backs coach Dre Bly got between them to calm the situation. But Joseph continued his rant toward teammates, who mostly ignored him and looked in different directions.

The video, taken from a cell phone, was posted by The Rocked on Network & Sports Media Group.

Quite naturally, the video stirred up speculation of if there is friction we don’t know about in the Lions dressing room. Is the culture as chummy as coach Dan Campbell preaches on an almost daily basis? Are defensive players upset with the playcalling of defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who Campbell goes out of the way to defend?

I cannot give you those answers. What I can tell you is what a number of NFL players have told me.

Do not read much into sideline eruptions during NFL games. They happen five or six times a game and are mostly harmless as men let off steam during a high-stress, highly competitive three-hour contest.

The sidelines are filled with angry words and shoves. Most of the time, things settle down before they even make it back to the dressing room.

It seldom lingers.

The media and public often believe the sky is falling when they see this.

In this case with the Lions, it appeared that Johnson was trying to lecture Joseph, and Joseph did not take too kindly to it.

So what does this all mean? Probably nothing. We often freak out when we see the inner workings of a pro team. We believe it is all love and harmony because that is what we are told.

I used to meet with University of Michigan assistant coach Gary Moeller during the Bo Schembechler days before their morning meetings were finished. I overheard angry meetings most weeks. They cursed one another, and coaches berated other coaches. It got quite heated. After the meeting they’d walk out smiling with coffee in hand and slapping each other on the backs in encouragement.

The public rarely sees fighting among teammates. But it happens.

Former Piston Ben Wallace often got heated with teammates when he believed their defense lacked intensity. They still made six straight Eastern Conference Finals, two NBA Finals, and won a championship in 2004.

Sometimes there is substance to these fights. Pistons guard Alvin Robertson attacked GM Billy McKinney, resulting in a five-game suspension. Pistons coach Chuck Daly got into a major dustup with forward Adrian Dantley.

After the game, Daly said “we’ve got to get this mother fucker the fuck out of here.”

Dantley was traded two weeks later.


For more from the author Terry Foster, check him out on Twitter here: @terryfosterdet

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Original Photo Credit: © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK