Here is what one Lions fan (Max DeMara) thinks about the open practices in Allen Park with the Lions.

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Good things are happening at summer camp in Allen Park.  No, not swimming fishing or hiking. Football is the word and head coach Rod Marinelli has bravely ushered in a new era for the Detroit Lions on and off the field. There is a young core of players who are starting to believe in a system and are determined to change the apparent culture of a team which has felt the brunt of unfair national mocking. As fans, we often get so caught up with wins and losses that we lose sight of the little things. Thankfully, Coach Marinelli is a stickler for these minute details and has left no stone unturned.  Now, the fans are finally able to take notice.

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Impressively, Marinelli has done what so few NFL coaches have the guts to do. He has returned football to the great Detroit Lions fans by allowing them access to training camp practices so they can enjoy the great athletes that he works with on a daily basis. Fans have been invited out to the Allen Park facilities and also Ford Field so they can get star struck watching the players they follow every Sunday train for the regular season grind.  For Detroit football fans, this is a present that is long overdue and it has made for one of the best ‘Christmas in July’ presents I have ever received.

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On Monday, I attended the morning camp and enjoyed watching the team progress through their drills. Like many Lions supporters, I rarely can make regular season games due to other responsibilities. I was able to get a sneak peek at many players on the roster that I knew and some that I did not. I marveled at the dedication of the players and the coaching staff. Their repetitions resembled well oiled machines, repeating and repeating with no end. As Coach Marinelli would say, the players kept “Pounding the Rock” and progressing through each workout. Afterwards, many players came and signed autographs for the fans and were kind and professional. Most importantly, Coach Marinelli took the time to shake hands with nearly each fan that he signed autographs for and thanked them for their support. When he shook my hand, it was genuine, as if he was an old friend. It was a personal touch in a league which has become very impersonal over the years.

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With news headlines dominated by Michael Vick’s fondness for a hobby that is frankly inhumane, Pac Man Jones and his repeated run-ins with the law and Tank Johnson’s own legal troubles, it is refreshing to see somebody finally setting a good positive example in this league. The Detroit Lions are a classy organization and it is fitting that they hired a classy head coach with a commitment to winning and discipline. His demeanor and message is getting through to the players who are behaving like a team ready to take the next step. We can say what we want about the Lions’ struggles over the past decade. Sure, they have not been creating the national buzz of the New England Patriots by winning handfuls of Super Bowls, but they are creating their own local news by being great everyday guys. Success has a way of eventually finding those who work hard and soon it will even find the Lions. It may take more time, or perhaps it will come quicker than any fans would anticipate like the resurgence of the Detroit Tigers. What’s most important is the fact that the team has a true leader in Rod Marinelli who is setting a positive example by giving a little of himself.  That’s teaching something bigger than football; it’s one of life’s most important lessons.

Thank you for setting the right example coach.