Have you ever had an awkward moment where you were talking about someone only to later find out that person was within earshot? Maybe it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but new Detroit Lions defensive lineman Michael Brockers recently experienced something similar.
Earlier this month, when walking through Los Angeles International Airport, online tabloid TMZ caught up with Brockers and asked him about the most intriguing story of the offseason; the Rams’ decision to trade quarterback Jared Goff to the Lions in exchange for Matthew Stafford.
“Is it a level up?” Brockers said, responding to the reporter’s question. “In my heart, deeply, just understanding what (Stafford) brings, it’s a level up.”
Given the Rams also sent the Lions three draft picks, including a pair of future first-rounders, it would seem clear the franchise felt the same way. But little did Brockers realize, he would be reunited with Goff in Detroit a couple weeks later, also via a trade.
Fortunately, Brockers already had made an effort to smooth things over with his former (an once again current) teammate prior to coming to Detroit. As the TMZ headline quickly gained steam on social media, he reached out to Goff to apologize.
During a video call with Detroit reporters on Monday, Brockers tried to explain the comment’s intent.
“I was really just trying to boost up the move the team was doing, and trying to boost up the fanbase,” Brockers said . “I didn’t think it was anything against Jared, and I even had to go, you know, text Jared away from the camera just as a man, and just like, ‘Man, bro, I did not mean for it go like that. I didn’t mean what I said. As a man, you just know I respect you as a player. You took me to a Super Bowl. So it wasn’t like that.'”
Brockers apologized to Goff a second time, in person, when he came to the Lions facility to sign a new, three-year contract with the team.
“If you’re at this level, you’re a great player,” Brockers said. “It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re playing in the NFL, you are a great player. I never want to comment on somebody’s career or anything like that. I’m going to leave that to the media and let you guys handle that. For me as a player, I respect each and every player in this league because to get to get to this position, you’re at the top of the 1% of the 1% of the 1%. So I respect every player and every player’s ability in this league.”
In an interview with the NFL Network, before the trade to Detroit, but after his comments to TMZ went public, Brockers made sure to clarify his appreciation of Goff.
“They’re getting a tough individual,” Brockers said. “He played in a game in Seattle with nine fingers. I’ve seen this man get hit plenty of times and stand back up and go at it. You’re getting a mentally tough player that doesn’t let a lot get to him. And he has a lot of experience. You can’t take that away from him. The man has made it to the big game and played in big games. So he knows how to get it done when the time is needed. So the Lions should be very happy with what they have. They got a guy with a lot of experience and knows how to get to the big game.”
When the Lions introduced Goff last week, two of the biggest points of emphasis from management were the quarterback’s toughness and ability to win games.
“There’s so many different ways to define grit, but I would say this; physical grit is one thing, and you need people, you need players that way,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “But you’ll never have physical grit without mental grit, and that’s what this player that I’m about to announce has. This guy, there’s three things that I think about with Jared Goff; he’s tough, he’s durable and most importantly, he’s a winner. He has won in this league. He knows how to win.”
Prior to the trades, Goff and Brockers, played their entire careers with the Rams. Both were first-round draft picks and the two have been teammates since 2016.