For Matt Patricia, Change in Attitude Makes Supporting Him Easier

Vito Chirco

Detroit head man Matt Patricia is entering his third year on the job, and the results haven't been pretty so far.

Under his leadership, the Lions have recorded a combined 9-22-1 mark with two consecutive last-place finishes in the NFC North. 

Meanwhile, he's established a reputation for ruffling the feathers of the veteran members of the Detroit locker room.

It's led to multiple players becoming disgruntled with Patricia and the organization, including safety Quandre Diggs and cornerback Darius Slay. 

Diggs was dealt midway through the 2019 campaign to the Seattle Seahawks, while Slay was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in March. 

The past two years, if you didn't mesh with Patricia's tight-lipped atmosphere in the locker room, you were shipped out of town -- Diggs and Slay being the two biggest examples of that. 

It subsequently didn't win over many supporters of the Lions franchise for Patricia. 

Instead, a multitude of fans took the side of the players in their respective divorces from the organization. 

But, after a rough first two seasons both on and off the sidelines, has he started to repair his image through decisions he's made away from the field this offseason?

At the very least, he's certainly made an attempt, as his work within the community has been highly commendable. 

The biggest example of this came in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers on May 25. 

It led to weeks and months of protesting across the United States and the world against police brutality.

One of these such protests came in the form of the Belle Isle Freedom March that was organized by ex-Lions running back Joique Bell. 

The march, which brought together and unified Detroit residents with members of the local police force and Michigan State Troopers, occurred June 5. 

And Patricia, who in the days following Floyd's death made sure he and his staff devoted several team meetings to focusing on the players' feelings regarding the killing, made sure he was there for the march.

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Several Detroit players, including receiver/special teams ace Jamal Agnew, defensive end Romeo Okwara and linebacker Christian Jones, also participated in the march.

It showcased not only Patricia's support for his players but also his willingness to stand in solidarity with residents of Detroit that have been the victims of police brutality and racial inequality for far too long. 

Patricia also displayed his empathy for others in a tribute to longtime Detroit radio personality Jamie Samuelsen, who passed away Aug. 1 after a 19-month battle with colon cancer.  

In an act of support for Samuelsen and his family and friends, he called in to Samuelsen's longtime employer 97.1 The Ticket to pay his respects on Aug. 3 -- the Monday following Samuelsen's death. 

"I just want to call in and say how sad and sorry I am," Patricia commented. "I wasn’t really aware of his condition until last week, and then this terrible news came so quickly right after. Just really hit me hard. Jamie’s just an amazing person. I had the fortunate blessing to have a couple in-person interactions with him and a couple in a private setting in training camp. Just a larger-than-life personality, just a genuine, wonderful, wonderful guy. Obviously your heart just aches for his wife and for his children and for their family, so just wanted to call in." 

Even more impressive, Patricia reportedly called in without being prompted to do so by the Lions. 

"Sports are great and that is our passion, and that’s the wonderful bond that we all have together, but this is really about people," Patricia said. "It’s about families, it’s about support and pulling together and just trying to make sure that everybody knows that we’re there to lean on if they need us. And then also to make sure that we get a message out that if we can do something to help other people, we should do that.

"So, I just appreciate you letting me come on, I just felt compelled. Like I said, Jamie walked in the room and you knew it right away. An amazing guy, great family, I know an unbelievable work partner and just someone that would do anything for anybody. So my heart goes out to everybody that had a wonderful opportunity to meet him, but especially his family and certainly for you and everybody there."

It was a beautiful tribute from Patricia that touched the hearts of Samuelsen's former radio colleagues, and it showcased a compassionate and sympathetic side of Patricia that many fans didn't previously know about.

Additionally, it's a side of Patricia that fans can more easily gravitate toward than his do-it-my-way-or-else style as head coach. 

Along with him leading the organization to a winning season in 2020, it could go a long way toward him earning the respect and support of the Detroit faithful.

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Comments (4)
No. 1-3
Tefkam
Tefkam

Typical, SOL

John Maakaron
John Maakaron

Editor

There has been a noticeable change in his demeanor! Slightly less contentious, but I am more intrigued by how he can use that many words to not answer any questions. I have been listening to several old Bill Belichick press conferences. BOTH are masters at just answering questions but not saying anything too controversial. It really is a cool skill to have

ATK49
ATK49

Really well written. I think it is nice to see his attitude change off the field, but I care much more about wins on the field. I don’t mind if the coach is a little bit rough around the edges


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