Featured photo by Erin Wallace
Sports are the bond that ties. For athletes no matter what sport they play. When they are drafted by a team it is so much more than just practice and games. It is the relationships that are formed and forged in the battles of training camp and the tough to swallow losses of a playoff game.
Hall of Fame Detroit Tigers short stop Alan Trammell said “You can take my World Series ring, the World Series Trophy, take my M.V.P. award and the Hall of Fame. But you can not have the relationships I have built playing with my teammates.”
As former Detroit Lions players rolled up to check in at the Detroit Lions Legends football camp, it was clear very early on, time has past but friendships remain. Strong. Big men embracing in a hug, there was no handshake, that would not be enough for these players to show the gratitude they have for one another.
In an instant, they were talking to each other like they had just eaten breakfast together. The stories began to ooze out of them. The glory days, from playing at the Pontiac Silverdome.
So what did I learn? That is a loaded question. Lomas brown told me Barry Sanders was “One of the best teammates I’ve ever had. We knew Barry was good, Barry knew he was good. But he practiced like a rookie trying to make the team everyday. He did not like it when players dogged it.”
I learned that an offensive lineman (Scott Conover) and a linebacker (George Jamison) are so tight even though they were on different units they can finish each others sentences and thoughts. I also learned they enjoy feeding off of each other and sometimes at the expense of others, just for a laugh. Even if they are the only ones laughing.
I learned that thanks to Jeff Chadwick, playing wide receiver is a whole heck of a lot more than lining up and running a pass route. It is part knowing when to come out of your break, part hand eye coordination, part speed all rolled together at blazing speed, with seemingly no time to think.
Former Detroit Lions defensive assistant Don Clemons told a story of former Lions linebacker Chris Spielman. He said he and his wife, Chris and his wife and then Detroit left guard Eric Andolsek and his wife use to play board games at Clemons house. “I remember one time, it was late we were having two-a-days (practices) everyone was beat. We finished the game in a three way tie,” Clemons started to smile and laugh. “Spielman stood up and said “CLEM!!!! no one is getting up from this table until someone wins. There are no ties!” Clemons was now in full-belly laughter.
I was blessed to attend and to be going back next year. I am blessed to call these former Detroit Lions players and the great Don Clemons, friends.