ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Cassius Vaughn learned the art from his father, and as any good father is wont to do, he passed it along to his progeny as well.
The art, of course, is talking. How to do it, how to speak what’s on your mind as a way to motivate yourself, make yourself laugh and also, potentially, get under the skin of opponents. One of the underrated things Vaughn brings to the Detroit Lions cornerback corps is his gift of gabbing. To anyone. About anything.
“I was raised like that,” Vaughn said. “My dad talked trash. I talk trash. My son talks trash. Even my little girl talks trash. It’s just a family thing.
“She’ll tell everybody she’s the best in the world, no matter what. She’s five-years-old, and I teach her like that. It’s all about having confidence and bringing yourself to a point that no matter the circumstances, you believe in yourself more than anybody else believes in you.”
Vaughn insists he never crosses a line with his talking and that it is done as much to motivate himself as it is to rankle the receivers he faces. But ask his teammates and there’s a combination of eye rolls, laughter and mutual admiration for how much Vaughn talks.
Since he signed with Detroit in the offseason to compete for a depth corner spot -- one he’s close to winning -- he’s been jabbering to whoever would listen. After a pass breakup? He talks. After an interception? You better believe he’ll start chattering.
“He talks his way, a lot of people like to do that, they talk their way into feeling good,” cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “He’s one of those guys. When he’s talking, you know it’s a good day for him.”
Vaughn said he started talking trash in preschool, before he started playing football and before he turned into a NFL cornerback in his fifth season. There is a difference between the way Vaughn talks and some of his contemporaries.
For instance, Miami cornerback Cortland Finnegan will occasionally research an opposing receiver before a game, looking for any way to have a mental edge on an opponent during a game. Vaughn does no research.
Anything he says or does is off the top of his head in the moment, mostly because it isn’t necessarily meant to be directed at an opponent. That said, the lifelong training in his particular art form has served him well when receivers start jawing at him.
It has led to some of his better lines.
“Somebody told me they was better than me,” Vaughn said. “And I told them I sleep better than you live.
“No research. Just straight up off the top of my head, however I feel at the moment. That’s how it’s going in. Now that I’m a little bit older, never scared to get beat because I’m able to come back and make the same plays. That comes from the trash talking.”
It led to some bonds with receivers as well. When Golden Tate, another Lions free agent signing, arrived in town, he and Vaughn became friends quickly. They both grew up in Tennessee -- Vaughn in Memphis, Tate from Nashville -- and they both have been known to talk on occasion.
“We both talk trash to each other,” Tate said. “It’s nothing ever vicious or anything.”
That’s what Vaughn prefers. Go at him with words. Try to make a play on him. He’s going to do the same to you. Have some fun. Line up and then do it again.
“I just like to enjoy myself,” Vaughn said. “More of the trash talk is to enjoy myself and have fun with the game because it’s at the end of the day a kid game and you have to enjoy it.”
Vaughn clearly does. As he said, “it’s a family thing.” One he’s more than willing to pass along.