Just last week, we were discussing the Detroit Lions' odd offseason in our SportsNation chat. "Silly" was the word I settled on to characterize a number of relatively minor incidents that, viewed together, suggest there are too many players on this team with some growing up to do.
I think it's fair to say we moved from "silly" to "stupid" this weekend after defensive tackle Nick Fairley's arrest in Alabama for driving under the influence and attempting to elude police. It was Fairley's second arrest in two months, the fifth known legal entanglement of a Lions player this offseason and the sixth incident involving a member of their 2011 draft class.
Fairley was arrested April 3 on a misdemeanor marijuana possession, also in Alabama. Running back Mikel Leshoure was cited twice for marijuana possession, offensive lineman Johnny Culbreath received one marijuana citation and receiver Titus Young was missing last week from organized team activities after fighting with safety Louis Delmas.
No matter how you view marijuana use or high-speed driving -- Fairley was clocked at 100 miles per hour prior to his arrest, according to police -- these players are guilty most notably of stupidity and selfishness.
NFL players young and old should know by now that commissioner Roger Goodell is prepared to discipline them more harshly than the U.S. legal system, especially for repeat offenders. Marijuana possession, drunken driving and eluding police in two months? That's an excellent list of ingredients for an NFL suspension. Like Leshoure before him, Fairley has absolutely no excuse for not being on his absolute best behavior after his first police run-in. Both have invited Goodell's scrutiny.
And it's selfish because these are players the Lions are counting on for both their short- and long-term success. The Lions aren't as good of a team with Leshoure or Fairley suspended, and they could indirectly suffer from Young missing valuable development time this offseason. This group's immature behavior threatens to impair the Lions' competitiveness in 2012 and beyond.
I'm sure there will be another round of questions about the Lions' discipline under coach Jim Schwartz. But I'm not coming down on Schwartz for poor offseason behavior. For the most part, especially under the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), players are on their own in the offseason. OTAs occur during the week, and players typically go home over the weekend. That's where Fairley was for both of his arrests.
To me, the offseason requires players to be men and accountable to themselves and teammates. It's not a time when a coach can cast a net over his roster. If you want to criticize or question the Lions, maybe it's better to start with their evaluation of the character of a draft class that doesn't seem to have its collective head on straight.
I don't think this silliness or stupidity or whatever word you chose has doomed the Lions to a setback season in 2012. Not yet, at least. But when will it end?