Lewand: Tough roster decisions lie ahead; suspensions likely for Fairley and Leshoure

Posted by ttwentyman on June 12, 2012 – 5:05 pm

Lions defensive end Cliff Avril isn’t expected to participate in minicamp this week as both he and the team continue to negotiate a long-term deal. Lions president Tom Lewand told 97.1 The Ticket in an interview Tuesday that he spoke to Avril’s representatives on Tuesday and those talks are ongoing.

If the two sides don’t come to an agreement on a long-term deal before July 16, Avril will have to play the 2012 season under the one-year franchise tag worth $10.6 million that the team designated him back in March.

Lewand was later asked if the Lions could afford to sign Avril to a lucrative long-term deal, consistent with some of the other deals top pass rushers in the NFL have been signing in recent years, with the current salary structure of the team and big money already being paid out to players like Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh.

“At some point in time that becomes a good problem to have,” Lewand answered. “Not that you ever want to lose good players, you don’t, but our system is such that if you look at the good teams throughout the NFL, the ones that have been consistent contenders on a year-in and year-out basis: Pittsburgh, New England, Indianapolis during the Peyton Manning days, Green Bay … they lose good players.

“They have to make tough decisions about whether to re-sign a guy, whether to trade somebody. Those are problems that we hope to have because you got an abundance of good players that you can’t afford to keep under the salary cap system. At some point in time, we’re going to be facing some of those tough decisions.”

The Lions would ideally like to sign Avril to a long-term deal at a cap-friendly $8 or $8.5 million per season. The problem is the going rate on top-tier pass rushers in the league right now is $10 to $12 million per season and up.

“The first contract we did in the 2012 offseason was for Calvin Johnson and I think that sent a message loud and clear to our locker room, and hopefully to this community and to our fans, that we are committed to keeping the nucleus of our team together for a long period of time and hopefully Cliff is a part of that,” Lewand said. “Hopefully we can work something out, but there will be tough decisions coming down the road. It’s not something anyone wants to have, but when it comes to picking problems that’s one of the best ones.”

It’s possible some of those “tough decisions” are part of the reason Avril isn’t signed past 2012?

Lewand also addressed the topic of possible suspensions for defensive tackle Nick Fairley and running back Mikel Leshoure for their offseason run-ins with law enforcement:

“We can’t suspend them, that’s part of the CBA, that’s part of the restrictions that we operate under,” Lewand said. “Obviously that discipline falls under the commissioner’s purview. And suspensions are certainly something that could be a possibility and I would say are likely if you look at similar types of incidences on other teams.

“But typically what the commissioner likes to do is see it play out in the legal process, see the matter is adjudicated because we can’t lose sight of the fact, and I’m not making excuses for anybody, trust me, but the reason the commissioner lets the legal process play out is because of the time-honored tradition of innocent until proven guilty.”

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Lions particularly excited about a couple undrafted free agents

Posted by ttwentyman on May 1, 2012 – 1:27 pm

The work didn’t stop for Lions general manager Martin Mayhew or president Tom Lewand when the draft ended Saturday night. The Lions instantly hit the phones to try and sign undrafted rookies to free agent deals.

With rookie mini-camp beginning in nine days, the Lions have agreed to terms with a number of rookie free agents, according to various reports.

The Lions won’t officially announce their undrafted rookie free agent signings until those players have taken a physical and signed their contracts. However, in an interview with Mike O’Hara and Ken Brown on WJR last night, Mayhew did single out Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore and Houston receiver Patrick Edwards as two players he’s particularly excited about.

“The winningest quarterback ever, 50-3,” Mayhew said of Moore. “The guy is very talented (and a) very cerebral quarterback and understands the game, son of a coach. He has a good arm and is very accurate.

“He anticipates things really well. That’s the one thing our scouts and coaches really talked about. He really knows where to go with the ball and he gets the ball there before the receiver comes out of his break. The guy is very talented and we were very fortunate to be able to get him.”

The Lions typically bring in more than three quarterbacks to training camp, but Moore looks to have a great opportunity to make the roster behind Matthew Stafford and backup Shaun Hill.

Edwards (5-9, 172) had over 4,500 receiving yards and 43 touchdowns in four years at Houston. He also scored two touchdowns returning punts.

“This guy has also been one of the productive guys in college football the last couple seasons,” Mayhew said of Edwards. “He had (1,752) yards receiving last year, 19.7 yards average per catch and he’s going to be one of our free agents that’s really another talented offensive weapon.

“He’s very fast. That Houston offense throws the ball around quit a bit. He was one of those run-and-shoot receivers. He caught like 89 balls last year, I think, so he caught a ton of balls. He’s been a three-year starter for them. He has over 4,500 yards in his career. He’s another guy who we think has a really good chance.”

Here is the unofficial list of the Lions’ undrafted rookie free agents thus far:

QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

WR Patrick Edwards, Houston

WR Troy Burrell, Wayne State

WR Jared Karstetter, Washington State

TE Alex Gottlieb, William & Mary

OG Rodney Austin, Elon

OT Quinn Barham, Penn State

OG J.C. Oram, Weber State

LB Carmen Messina, New Mexico

LB Ronnie Sneed, Kentucky

DT Michael Cosgrove, Idaho

DE Eddie McClam, Old Dominion

K Derek Dimke, Illinois

CB Alonzo Lawrence, Mississippi Golf Coast Community College

G Pat Boyle, Temple

TE Austin Wells, Northern Iowa

RB Stephon Greene, Penn State

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Who’s still available for the Lions in the second and third rounds

Posted by ttwentyman on April 27, 2012 – 11:25 am

Round one of the 2012 NFL Draft is in the books and the Lions found their left tackle of the future in Iowa’s Riley Reiff with the 23rd pick.

Tom Lewand, Martin Mayhew and the coaching staff will be sequestered back into the war room in Allen Park tonight for rounds two and three.

So, who are some names that make senses for the Lions tonight?

Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana

At 6-feet-2 and 204 pounds, Johnson has elite size for the position. The big worry with any prospect from a small school is whether he was challenged enough. Johnson is a bit raw and it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to the precision and physicality of NFL receivers.

Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida

Robinson ran a combine-best 4.33-second 40-yard dash and performed well in all the other drills. He doesn’t have elite size (5-10, 199), but was a three starter at Central Florida and has a lot of experience. The big question mark with Robinson is his man-cover skills.

Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

Branch is an athletic defensive end who could also play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Those are just the type of speed rushers the Lions like to set out wide and target the quarterback. Branch was one of the Lions’ 30 pre-draft visits and would be a terrific pick in the second round.

Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall

The Lions also took a closer look at Curry in the pre-draft process and he fits the mold of what they like in their defensive ends. He had 23 sacks the last two years and is a pure pass rusher. Lions might have to move up to get him, though.

Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska

The Lions return all three starters at linebacker, but still need depth and talent at the position. David is a bit undersized (6-1, 233) but makes up for it with instincts and speed. He was extremely productive at Nebraska and was a tackle machine.

Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

There is no substitute for speed in the NFL and Brown might be the fasted linebacker prospect to ever enter the NFL. Brown set the North Carolina record in the indoor 60-meter dash as a sophomore and that speed translates well to the football field. He was a pre-draft visit for the Lions.

RB LaMichael James, Oregon

James has great speed and quickness and excels in the open field. In the Lions offense, he could get a lot of those opportunities. During his pre-draft visit, James said he’d love to return kicks and play special teams, which s a plus for the Lions. He’s also insurance for Jahvid Best.

RB Lamar Miller, Miami

Miller is a terrific running back prospect for the Lions because he’s a hybrid of both Mikel Leshoure and Jahvid Best. He has terrific speed, but also shows great power when he runs between the tackles. He has to get much better as a pass protector, though.

OG Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State

Could the Lions go offensive line with their top-two picks? They could if Silatolu is still on the board when they pick at No. 54. The Lions wanted a closer look during the pre-draft process. Silatolu is a mauler on the interior.

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Lions Draft Special: Watch ‘Before the Snap’ for an inside look at the NFL draft on WXYZ – Channel 7

Posted by Tara Altman on April 26, 2012 – 5:21 pm

A whole new season of Detroit Lions coverage kicks off with an exciting one-hour, live draft special “Before the Snap,” tonight from 7-8 P.M.   The show will be hosted by WXYZ sports anchor Tom Leyden and former Lions tight end, NFL analyst Rob Rubick.

“Before the Snap,” will take viewers inside the draft process with interviews from Lions top executives, including Head Coach Jim Schwartz, President Tom Lewand, and General Manager Martin Mayhew.

The show will also include live shots from the Lions Draft party at the Fillmore in downtown Detroit with sports reporter Brad Galli, as well as commentary from an expert panel including NFL broadcast veterans Matt Shepard from WDFN, and Mike Valenti from 97.1 The Ticket, along with Detroit Lions color analyst Jim Brandstatter.

Join the conversation with Lions Insider Tim Twentyman and Channel 7:  Be sure to share your thoughts and opinions using #lionsdraft on Facebook and Twitter. He’ll share your views on TV during the special.

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Lewand: ‘Those guys that were in last year’s draft class have a lot of work to do’

Posted by ttwentyman on April 9, 2012 – 9:06 pm

The Lions get back to work next Monday for the first day of the offseason training program.

Nick Fairley, Mikel Leshoure and Johnny Culbreath are all expected to be among those participating in the workouts. All three have also made news this offseason for legal troubles involving Marijuana.

Culbreath was arrested in January for possession of Marijuana, Leshoure was cited twice for Marijuana possession in less than a month and Fairley was pulled over and arrested for Marijuana possession last Tuesday.

The Lions issued a statement last week expressing their disappointment with both Fairley and Leshoure, but Lions president Tom Lewand spoke about those incidents in more detail Monday with Mike O’Hara and Ken Brown on WJR.

“We expressed disappointment last week and I continue to express disappointment that guys put themselves in the position where they have to have an unpleasant interaction with law enforcement,” Lewand said. “That is something that should be avoided.

“But as we all know from life’s experiences, it happens, people make mistakes, and you want to give guys opportunities to correct those mistakes, learn from them and move forward.”

Lewand expects that process to begin next week when the team gets together for the training program.

“Those guys that are in last year’s draft class have a lot of work to do and that work starts next week,” he said. “They have to come in and begin to really take on the responsibility as members of the Detroit Lions that we’re expecting them to take to help us get to the next level.”

While disappointed those players put both themselves and the organization in a bad light with their actions, Lewand certainly isn’t ready to give up on them.

“In the case of all of our guys, they are good guys, and we still have to remember at times — and this is not to excuse anyone’s behavior — but guys are young,” Lewand said. “I think when all of us were in our early 20s the feeling of invincibility was a lot higher than maybe it is today.

“But they have to learn from all of their life experiences, and I’m not necessarily referring to any specific incident in Mikel’s case or Fairley’s case, but guys have to learn. They have to grow and they have to mature, whether that’s off the field or on the field.”

Lewand was then asked if last week’s incidents involving Leshoure and Fairley could have been a result of players having too much time on their hands under the new CBA. In years past, the offseason training program began a month earlier.

“It may be a factor, but I’ll tell you this, we’re not the nanny state,” Lewand said. “The fact that guys get another month off, or last year’s rookie class didn’t have the benefit of a full offseason in the program and some of the rookie education that we do, because of the lockout last year, quite frankly, those to me are a lot of excuses.

“Guys have to be responsible for their actions no matter what time of the year those occur and that’s part of the process of growing up as men, growing up as teammates and growing up as members of the National Football League.

“You are held to a high standard. I know that firsthand (referring to his arrest in 2010 for DUI) and I’ve learned that lesson myself. That’s a lesson we all have to learn and we have to take it to heart when that adversity is there and when we make mistakes we’ve got to learn from them and grow as human beings.”

Lewand also commented on a number of other subjects in the interview:

On the NFL’s decision Monday to uphold the suspensions to the Saints involved in the “bounty” program:

“I think the emphasis the commissioner has put on the health and safety of the players has been paramount and there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to uphold what he had originally levied.”

On Cliff Avril and his ability to participate in the training program if he wanted to without a signed franchise tag tender.

“Anybody who is under a tender of any type, whether its restricted free agent or franchise tag can participate (in offseason program). There’s a waiver they can sign that we have that protects both the club and the player so they can participate fully in the offseason program while they continue to pursue any rights under the system they have as a tendered player.”

On the bogus schedule that was released last week and thought to be a leaked version of the real regular season schedule:

“One of my contacts at the league office said exactly one of the games, even though they don’t have the schedule complete, is accurate. I’ll leave it to you guys to speculate.”

On the new four-year partnership with WXYZ-TV Channel 7:

“They did a great job with us last year on the preseason games. We talked a lot during this conversation about the around-the-calendar coverage of the NFL and Channel 7 provides that platform to cover what we’re doing throughout the course of the year, not only on the field, but also off the field and in the community. There’s no better partner to go out in the community with than Channel 7.”

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Lewand talks overseas football, the 2011 season and free agency in fan forum

Posted by ttwentyman on February 14, 2012 – 10:50 pm

Lions president Tom Lewand spent an hour answering questions during a fan forum for season ticket holders on Tuesday.

Lewand touched on a wide variety of subjects including the current situation with the salary cap, the importance of keeping the team’s core players together and the health of running backs Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure.

Here are a few other points Lewand touched on:

On playing home games overseas:

“I think the expansion of the NFL into international markets is a great thing, but we don’t look to participate as a home team. We have a commitment here to Detroit, the Ford family has a commitment to Detroit, you guys have started to make Ford Field into one of the best home field advantages and we don’t want to give that up, we want to make it even better.

“It’s not easy to do if one of our home games is in London or Mexico City or Toronto or somewhere else. We would like to be right here at 2000 Brush St., right at Ford Field and have you guys there week-in and week-out supporting us and giving us that huge advantage that you gave us this year.

“If we end up playing a road game in one of the international venues, so be it, we’ll embrace that opportunity like we would some other ones that come our way. But we won’t be putting ourselves up as lone of those teams that would take a home game on the road.”

On how important a season 2011 was for the franchise:

“I think that 2011 was very valuable to us because it taught us a lot. We broke some losing streaks, we set some other records and we did some things that were great on an individual basis, but as a team, we learned how to handle winning. We learned how to handle teams coming into Ford Field aiming for us where they may not have been in the past.

“We learned to handle some adversity when that adversity comes with having a target on your back as opposed to having losses on your record. I think that was important because I think guys need to know how to handle pressure when it comes through success as much as they need to learn how to handle adversity when it comes through losing. Those experiences that we had in handling pressure when it came with success will serve us well going forward.”

On preparing for free agency:

“We’re going to look at good players out there. As a matter of fact, our free agent meetings internally will be this week. We’ll have meetings with all of our coaching staff, all of our scouts, obviously with Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz and we’ll go through the offensive and defensive players who are going to be free agents out there.

“(With) the work that Sheldon White and our Pro Personnel Department does throughout the year to keep our boards current, we know how we value all of those guys and how they fit our profiles and whether they fit our profile. Having said that, I don’t foresee us being in a position to go out and make a lot of aggressive, quote-unquote marquee free agent moves. That’s not what we’ve ever been about.”

On any updates he has with negotiations with the Lions’ unrestricted free agents

“Free agency starts two weeks later this year than it has in the past. It’s normally been about March 1 every year, this year it’s a full two weeks later. I think you’ll see some things move a little bit more slowly in February when it comes to signing your own guys.

“I do think that the combine this year in Indianapolis where we normally go down there to scout college players will be one that’s a little bit more focused on free agent signings; and when I say that, I mean guys who are on our own team. I think that’s when you’ll start to see some of those deals get done. I’m optimistic that we can keep a good part of that core together, if not all of it. We’re going to work hard between now and the start of free agency to get that done.”

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Stafford is the one constant moving forward for Lions

Posted by ttwentyman on February 14, 2012 – 6:02 pm

In an interview with Detroitlions.com last month, Lions vice chairman Bill Ford admitted the team was facing some tough decisions this offseason regarding the salary cap and some key free agents, but added that consistently good teams have to make those decisions every offseason.

“You look at the best teams in the league and they don’t get sentimental,” he said. “The one thing about the New England Patriots is they reload on the run. If they feel like somebody they considered untouchable even a year ago no longer untouchable, they’ll make that decision and go. That’s what the salary cap forces upon you.”

Lions president Tom Lewand referenced that quote in a fan forum with season ticket holders Tuesday, but wanted to add to it.

“Bill Ford did an interview a couple of weeks ago on our website and I thought he had great insight about the New England Patriots being able to build on the fly,” Lewand said. “That they’ve had to make changes on the fly as they’ve sustained a level of competitiveness in this league, but a lot of that has to do with having Tom Brady as a quarterback for so long.

“When you’ve had Tom Brady there and you can build around him, you’ve got guys on defense that they’ve been able to do the same thing with, that makes changing on the fly easy because nobody has 22 solid starter spots in the NFL, plus now rotational players. Nobody has that.

“You’ve got to have that core of players; you’ve got to be able to change around them and make the tough decisions when good players leave you in the salary cap era that you’re confident that that nucleus will get it done and the guys that can fill in around them will fill those support roles.”

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is the primary piece of the puzzle for the Lions; the starting point when Ford and Lewand talk about core pieces to build around.

Like Lewand said in the fan forum, players will come and go in the salary cap era and tough decisions have to be made all the time. The Lions are facing a tough decision this offseason with the pending free agency of defensive end Cliff Avril. The Lions have to decide how much they value Avril monetarily, whether they can afford to franchise him if a long-term deal doesn’t get done, or whether they can live without him.

The Patriots made a tough decision in 2009 when they parted ways with Pro Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who was entering the final year of his contract, by trading him to the Raiders. They endured, reloaded and had Tom Brady to guide them through the transition.

The same goes for the Lions and Stafford and any tough decisions they might ultimately make.

“The focus when we’re winning will be on that core of players on both sides of the ball: Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Ndamukong Suh, Louis Delmas, those guys that we drafted who are our guys who provide that nucleus that we can then build around,” Lewand said. “Look at any competitive team in the NFL and they have that nucleus of guys.”

All of the players Lewand mentioned above are under contract next season.

“As a our quarterback continues to get better, he naturally becomes the leader in that locker room, and guys will naturally look to him to set the tone and I have every confidence that Matthew is going to set right tone for us going forward,” Lewand said.

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Evaluations continue for Lions at Senior Bowl

Posted by ttwentyman on January 24, 2012 – 6:28 pm

Lions president Tom Lewand told me today that the team is getting a lot done down at the Senior Bowl. The Lions have been busy interviewing prospects and are doing a lot of off-the-field work as well as evaluating players on the practice field.

Here are a few tidbits from some of the national draft writers on how Day 2 of  Senior Bowl practices went.

–Sports Illustrated’s Tony Pauline wrote that the most impressive players to come out of the morning practice on Tuesday was Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin and UConn defensive tackle Kendall Reyes.

“(They) were both impossible to stop and set up shop behind the line of scrimmage,” Pauline wrote on sportsillustrated.com.

–The National Football Post’s Wes Bunting remains impressed with Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams.

“What’s so impressive about Adams is the way he easily moves his 330-pound frame around the field,” Bunting wrote. “Even this morning, when asked to block in motion, Adams quickly gets out to the second level and is able to adjust and block linebackers thanks to his agility.”

NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan had this to say about Adams:

“Adams passes the eyeball test for certain and has the feet to be a fine left tackle,” he wrote. “He clearly demonstrated an ability to roll off the line of scrimmage and run block at the line of scrimmage or at the linebacker level in the 9-on-7 drills. Simply stated, he likes to finish a defender in the run game.

“His pass blocking has some issues when it comes to having the punch to neutralize a rusher. He is patient and disciplined enough to not go chasing a wide defender but he is inconsistent in re-routing a rusher. Adams often has his arms fully extended with little pop, which in turn causes some waist bending. It is all correctable and he is a fine athlete.”

–Bunting wasn’t as impressed with cornerbacks Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska) or Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama), two players who the Lions could be interested in at pick No. 23.

“He allows his cushion to be eaten up far too much in his drop and lacks much of a burst/second gear when asked to turn and run,” Bunting wrote of Dennard.

As for Jenkins: “Jenkins looks rusty,” Bunting tweeted Tuesday. “Letting receivers get too far into his cushion, allowing receivers behind him.”

All of this is a matter of opinion and perception, though. There were others who thought Jenkins showed well, Tuesday.

“Jenkins has looked good,” Pauline wrote. “He’s fast, easily stays downfield with opponents and, despite playing at a low level of competition last year, looks as though his ball skills have improved. Scouts have to be thinking first round for Jenkins after his performance.”

In the end, the only evaluation that really matters will be those of Lewand, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew, coach Jim Schwartz and the rest of their staffs.

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Roger Goodell to visit Ford Field Sunday

Posted by ttwentyman on December 6, 2011 – 3:12 pm

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be at Ford Field Sunday when the Lions host the Vikings.

Goodell will meet with a group of Lions season ticket holders through a special invite for a question-and-answer session before the game.

Goodell meets regularly with NFL fans and has during his tenure as commissioner. Earlier this year, he held a similar fan forum with Bills fans prior to their Oct. 9 game against the Eagles.

During the lockout, he held a series of conference calls with various team’s season ticket holders, including the Lions.

Goodell was last at Ford Field in 2009 when he attended the Lions’ “Uncaged” public practice at the end of training camp.

In 2009, he took the opportunity to roam the concourse and met several Lions fans attending that practice. He also took questions from the media.

Lions president Tom Lewand, coach Jim Schwartz and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh visited Goodell in New York during the bye week to get clarification on a few rules and get a better understanding from the league on how those rules are interpreted by officials when it came to Suh.

Suh will no doubt be a hot topic in the Q/A session Sunday after he was suspended two-games by the NFL for kicking Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving.

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Lewand, Lions comment on sudden death of beat writer Tom Kowalski

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on August 29, 2011 – 1:18 pm

Tom Kowalski, longtime Detroit Lions writer for Booth Newspapers and MLive.com, died this morning, according to his fiancee, Diane Wolan.

“The entire Lions organization, the Ford family, and me, personally, were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tom Kowalski this morning,” said Detroit Lions Team President Tom Lewand. “Tom was a true professional, the consummate beat writer, somebody who brought a lot of tremendous information to our fans — even in times of disagreement; we always had the utmost respect for his professionalism.

“He will be sorely missed and our deepest sympathies go out to Diane and to his entire family. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of them.”

“I’ll just say this about Tom,” said Head Coach Jim Schwartz. “The one thing he always tried to do was get it right. He knew football and he always wanted to get it right and we had a lot of respect for that.”

Schwartz lets the first question go unanswered in honor of Kowalski

“It was tough hearing the news today about Tom because I felt like I lost a good friend and not just a writer,” said Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham. “When he asked me questions, it was important to him to be right. Obviously, he always did his homework and that’s what I respected most about him. To me, he was an old-school writer. He was honest and fair.

“The way I look at him, he is all Detroit. People in this area that I met, they are all alike and he epitomized that. Our conversations were solid, and there was mutual respect for each other. Beyond football, we would also talk about life.

“I am sad that he is gone. God bless his family and friends.”

“On behalf of the team, we consider him part of the family; we saw him every day,” said center Dominic Raiola. “I dealt with Tom every day; I’d see him out here. (It will) take a lot of time to get over this.

“In the end, Tom always had the best interest of everybody in that locker room. He always wanted to know more about why things happened on the field and he always did a good job of that. He was a good person; he was fun to be around. (I) had a lot more personal relationship with him, so that was some tough news to hear.”

“I have too many (memories),” said kicker Jason Hanson. “It is one of those things, just like with everybody, takes you by surprise. It kind of knocks the wind out of you. You don’t know what to say or think yet. It is just amazing. Of all the reporters, I think he was the one that got it right most of the time and really had the insight.

“Beyond that, regardless of any of that, he will be missed by all of us. And everyone in this locker room, their condolences and their prayers and their thoughts go to his family and friends. I am just at a loss of words. I don’t know what to think. We all are like ‘Is it true?’ We are devastated.”

“Tom was a great guy,” said quarterback Matthew Stafford. “He was a big football guy; you could tell he knew football, he loved it. He was always a good guy in our locker room and we were blessed to have him around.

“As coach pointed out on the field, he said ‘You know, he always tried to get it right, which is something you respect from a reporter.’ He will definitely be missed.”

A collection of Tweets honoring Tom

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