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Who would have thought the Detroit Lions would be the most newsworthy team in the NFC North? Not I, said the fly. Tuesday was their busiest day yet as they shelved quarterback Jon Kitna and traded receiver Roy Williams. We should start with Kitna's comments to Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press.
Kitna confirmed what many have thought all along: That he does have a back injury but it's not season-ending. Kitna said he was treated as a "cancer" because he pointed out some of the Lions' offensive flaws, that the team wouldn't let him travel to Minnesota last weekend and that he couldn't talk Rod Marinelli into letting him play.
Here's the summary quote:
"I'm not whining. Nobody wins when that happens. But this is factual. Not long ago, I had a talk with Rod concerning my health and my overall fate with the team, and basically the things I had to say, he didn't want to hear. On Friday they said you're not going on the trip [to Minnesota] even though I was perfectly healthy on Friday, which is the norm with back spasms for me. ...Then they said they were gonna look at three possibilities. One, wait a couple weeks to see how my back responds. Two, put me on IR. Three, try and trade me."
Again, this isn't the first time a team has put a player out to pasture. In some ways, the Lions deserve credit for making a forceful, if cold-blooded, football decision. It would have been the more obvious choice if they actually had a viable replacement on the roster, but few would disagree that Kitna's best days are behind him.
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News called it a "tough move, but the right one" and gave credit to the team for making progress at the end of the day. Free Press columnist Drew Sharp, meanwhile, credited new Lions general manager Martin Mayhew for fleecing Dallas on the Williams trade: "It's nothing short of miraculous that the Lions got a first-round draft choice for a player they really didn't want beyond this season."
Mayhew played his hand well, writes John Niyo of the Detroit News. Mayhew downplayed the possibility of trading Williams as late as Monday afternoon but said he had a firm offer on his desk when he returned to his office after meeting with Detroit reporters. In the end, Mayhew got as much as the Lions reasonably could have expected if they had put a first- and third-round franchise tag on Williams in the offseason.
Now, the Lions won't have to worry about an injury or downturn in production affecting Williams' value: "The uncertainty of what his value would be going forward dictated that we make that move today," Mayhew said.
That should give you a good taste of the reaction to Tuesday's events. We'll bring you more as the news dictates. For now, here's a jaunt around the rest of the NFC North: