Allen Park — Graham Glasgow has no problem admitting he was bitter about the way his first run with the Detroit Lions came to an end. But, those feelings didn’t last long, and when the Denver Broncos released him this offseason, Glasgow asked his agent to gauge whether Detroit was keen on a reunion.
As it turns out, the interest was mutual, so after three seasons in Denver, Glasgow is back with the Lions — and he couldn’t be happier.
A lot changes with an NFL team in four years. The Lions have a new coach and front-office leadership, and most of the roster has turned over, as well. But, there’s still familiarity in the surroundings, and in the offensive-line room, where Glasgow will reconnect with former roommate Taylor Decker, Pro-Bowl center Frank Ragnow and position coach Hank Fraley, who had been the assistant position coach when Glasgow last played for the Lions.
Arguably, the biggest change since those days is the mood and energy in the building.
“The demeanor is fantastic,” Glasgow said Monday. “It seems like a lot of the coaches that I’ve talked to so far, guys who I’ve known in the past and guys who I have worked with, it seems like we’ve got a lot of straight-shooters here in the coaching staff. It just seems like the overall culture that they have comes down to the locker room; it’s good.”
A third-round pick out of Michigan in 2016, Glasgow was a four-year starter at three different positions for the Lions. But, as he marched toward the expiration of that rookie deal, the former coaching staff made the decision to enter him in an unorthodox playing-time rotation — which, in hindsight, remains inexplicable. It soured the end of his time here, and instead of staying in Detroit, which was the initial hope, he jumped on a four-year, $44 million offer from the Broncos.
When the Lions drafted Glasgow, it was the initial wave of the offensive line’s reconstruction. He came in with Decker and former starting guard Joe Dahl. Ragnow was added to the mix two years later. In recent years, the team has continued to build and solidify the unit, adding two more Pro Bowlers via the draft, in Jonah Jackson and Penei Sewell. The only question mark is Glasgow’s old spot at right guard, which was supposed to be manned by his replacement, Halapoulivaait Vaitai.
Vaitai remains under contract in Detroit, although his roster spot feels tenuous, at best, after he missed the entire 2022 campaign because of a back injury. Regardless of what happens there, Glasgow said he’s not expected to be handed his old job.
“The expectation is to come in and compete for a job,” Glasgow said. “I mean, I’ve done it before, and it’s something I’m not opposed to. I’ve competed for a job here in the past. How do I answer this? The game is very humbling and I find that being able to have an opportunity to come back to the place where I have emotional ties and even some physical ties, to be able to come back and be a part of something special is important to me.”
Glasgow also got interest from Carolina and San Francisco, but Michigan holds a special place in his heart. He played college football here, started his professional career here, met his wife here, and it’s home of Zingerman’s bakery, the food he misses most when away.
He missed the people, too. So, getting an opportunity to reunite with friends in pursuit of success for a franchise that has lacked it for so long, what more could Glasgow ask for?
“Well, I mean, when I was looking for places to go, that was something that was really enticing to me, just seeing how good they’ve been so far,” Glasgow said. “You don’t get many opportunities to go join a place that already has a very well-established line, and I think that was, as I said, appealing to me.
“…To play with Taylor, to play with Frank, it just came down to I wanted to be a part of that O-line room,” Glasgow said. “I wanted to be back with my buddies. And I wanted to be a part of this team.”