The Detroit Lions releasing Trey Flowers isn’t shocking. Many suspected it would happen. Why? Well, it was their worst kept secret.
Long before reports about it surfaced, the writing was on the wall. At least to anyone paying attention.
Flowers returning next season didn’t make any sense. For a team that’s in a rebuild, his contract is a disaster. In 2019, he signed a five-year, $90 million deal to join the Lions. So far, he’s made roughly $60 million of it. Get this, though? He’s only played in 29 of 49 eligible games. Unfortunately, the injury bug found him in Motown.
So taking feelings out of it, releasing Trey Flowers was a smart business decision for the Lions. It’s hard to justify paying someone that sum of money who missed about half a season for back-to-back years. Along with that, there’s no clue how his health will hold up moving forward.
However, as smart as it is, it also feels a bit wrong.
The reason for that is since his arrival in Detroit, Trey Flowers has defined the term “consummate professional.” If you witness him in a room, you notice he will greet and speak to everyone with a high level of class.
Still, that isn’t what makes his exit feel wrong.
When Flowers first arrived in Detroit, he made it his mission to ingratiate himself with the Detroit community. Through his non-profit organization, Flowers of the Future, he wanted to get to work. And he did that before he played his first snap with Lions.
In August 2019, Detroit-based youth group, Teen Hype, was one of the first community groups he met. In a surprise, intimate setting, Flowers spoke with teenage members of the organization to learn more about them. He sought to know how he could use his influence and platform to help.
“I definitely plan to do a lot in the community. I love children and for me, kids got a different outlook on life and a different opportunity,” Flowers told me in 2019. “As you get older, those opportunities tend to dwindle. If you can encourage kids at this age or [at a] younger age, you can help them take advantage of those opportunities. That’s what I plan to do.”
Flowers was true to his word.
He’s held backpack/back-to-school supply drives at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center on Detroit’s westside. Also in 2019, he held a TV giveback event for the Methodist Children’s Home Society in Redford. And then there’s his charitable acts during pandemic in 2020. Partnering with Happy’s Pizza, he fed 4,000 workers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Still, that also isn’t what makes Flowers’ exit feel wrong.
While his acts of kindness and philanthropy in Detroit are endless, his work with the Pure Heart Foundation shines above the rest. The Pure Heart Foundation is a non-profit organization that mentors and provides resources to youth in Detroit with incarcerated parents.
From the time Flowers met the cohorts of the program, a relationship formed. And it’s one that Pure Heart Founder & CEO Sherelle Hogan appreciates greatly.
“Since I’ve known Trey Flowers, he has advocated for Pure Heart Foundation and supported our mission,” Hogan told Woodward Sports. “He not only made financial contributions, but he gave something that’s priceless to our scholars and that was his time.”
“He used his platform to spread awareness about a population of children who’s often forgotten and we will never forget the impact he made in our lives. On and off the field, he is a truly a man with a pure heart.”
A notable event that Flowers participated in with Pure Heart happened last year. Around the 2021 NFL season start, he moderated a panel on systemic racism. After the murder of George Floyd, many professional athletes talked about the work they would do to bring attention to systemic racism. Flowers is one of the few athletes, in Detroit anyway, to actually do this type of work. He was adamant about it.
“You can see it all throughout the Black community,” Flowers told Woodward Sports in 2021. “You have a father that’s not at home [and] a mother that’s raising her son. [And] you hear the stories all the time. That can kinda go either way. Just to not have that around due to mass incarceration, obviously, can affect that child’s future. [It] can affect that child’s thought process as far as he or she goes out into the world. I think it’s very important and very significant to talk about it right now to raise awareness.”
He presented Pure Heart with a $5,000 check after the event’s end. There’s also one other time Flowers assisted Pure Heart. And this could be the most heart warming.
In 2020, Hogan purchased a home to serve as a youth center for Pure Heart. Unfortunately, the home was vandalized and destroyed a day before its open house. Burglars stoles supplies and appliances. It left them in a $10,000 hole. After hearing of the incident, Flowers reached out to Hogan personally to offer his assistance. She considered him a hero for his efforts and financial support.
So Hogan’s words are spot on. Trey Flowers is a man with a pure heart.
And that’s what makes his Detroit exit feel so wrong. The total picture showcases the type of man that is leaving Detroit.
He’s the rare athlete to play professionally in Detroit whose positive impact on inner-city youth is apparent. Flowers didn’t come to Detroit, get the bag, and offer a bunch of empty promises. Making his mark was a mission point. It was just as important to be successful on the field.
His community work is not something to overlook. Because that type of impact isn’t easily replaceable.
On Wednesday evening, the Detroit Lions officially released Flowers. As he exits Detroit, fans will rejoice in the financial relief their team gets. And they should. At the same time, they should offer him, well, his “flowers” as he exits.