Lions use COVID-19 missteps as teaching moments

Detroit News

The Detroit Lions took a stiff jab from the initial wave of coronavirus testing, but since quarterback Matthew Stafford’s false positive test Aug. 1, the team hasn’t placed another player on the COVID-19 reserve list.

Including Stafford, the Lions landed eight players on reserve, meaning those players either tested positive for the virus or were knowingly exposed to someone who had. Fortunately, all eight cases happened before players were allowed into the team’s practice facility and all eight have been activated after rookie safety Jalen Elliott got taken off reserve Friday afternoon. 

Internally, the Lions have placed a premium on education and accountability. The team has emphasized the importance of making good decisions away from the facility, not just for the sake of their own health, but the health of their teammates and families. 

And so for the strategy is working. Even with daily testing, the team has gone nearly two weeks without another positive test. 

In the meantime, the sporting world has offered plenty of reminders and teaching moments regarding the fragility of the situation during the ongoing pandemic. The majority of those examples have come courtesy of MLB. 

Not only has baseball had two outbreaks in recent weeks, pausing the seasons for the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, but the Cleveland Indians had to send home two starting pitchers, Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac, for violating team protocols and endangering their teammates. 

A similar situation occurred this week in the NFL, when Seattle Seahawks rookie cornerback Kemah Siverand was caught attempting to sneak a female visitor into the team’s hotel. 

More: Matthew, Kelly Stafford launch University of Georgia social-justice program

Siverand was cut for his transgression. 

Lions coach Matt Patricia, the son of two educators who has repeatedly said he sees himself as a teacher as much as a coach, has the benefit of using these real-world examples when reminding his players how to conduct themselves in the immediate future. 

“Certainly things that don’t happen within our sport, if they can apply, that we can learn from, I think that’s really important,” Patricia said during a Friday video conference with reporters. “And certainly things that happen within the sport, those, you know, directly correlate. For us, I think our guys just trying to understand, hey, we’re trying to do everything that’s possible to keep everybody safe, (not only) yourself and your teammates, but your families and your teammates families.

“We know those situations come up and we got to deal with them the best we can when they do,” Patricia continued. “I think the biggest challenge for all of us, I would say is as we get comfortable in these environments and as we get more time into it where we do feel safer, it’s just staying diligent with being protected. Sometimes it’s easy to maybe forget your mask when you walk out of your office or when you walk into a new room, but you got to have it on you got to put it up and just kind of staying real consistent with that stuff i think is important. Because as we progress here, things will change and variables will change so we just got to make sure that we’re doing everything as possible to stay safe.”

The Lions are set to shift into a new phase of training camp next week, with on-field practices beginning Monday. The team is scheduled to open the season Sept. 13, at home against the Chicago Bears.


To clear room for Elliott on the active roster, the Lions waived undrafted rookie Jeremiah Dinson. The team also activated defensive end Romeo Okwara off the non-football injury list.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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