C.J. Gardner-Johnson embracing the Lions ‘villain’ mantra

USA Today

Ever since Lions GM Brad Holmes sported a “Villains” sweatshirt at the NFL scouting combine earlier this year, the word has become something of a defining mantra for the team. And while Holmes has never really elaborated on the exact meaning, it’s clear his players are bought into the mindset.

It’s permeated Detroit in a positive way. Enthusiastic provocateur C.J. Gardner-Johnson is all-in on the new concept and burying the same old Lions notion.


“We’re villains right?” Gardner-Johnson stated more than he asked it. “It’s part of us, it’s the culture. I’m changing it.”

The prized offseason free agent defensive back wants to overhaul the fan mindset, too. Out with the paper bags over fans’ heads and the expectations of disappointment and futility. In with blue ski masks and expecting to be great.

“No paper bags. Ski masks. We’re taking what’s ours. There’s a new sheriff in town,” Garner-Johnson enthused. He wants all the fans to embrace the villainy by rocking the blue ski masks during Sunday’s game against the Seahawks in Ford Field.

“They’re part of us,” Gardner-Johnson said. “It’s the culture. We’re changing it. I’m going to get you one. You want one?”

It seems the villainy thrives; Amazon has sold out of the model the Lions safety wore on the field and in the locker room after Detroit’s win in Kansas City last Thursday.

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