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Black and Blue all over: Schwartz and fans

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Terry Foster's Q&A with Detroit coach Jim Schwartz included this nugget about the NHL playoffs, via the Detroit News:

Schwartz: "I was watching Game 7 of the Red Wings playoff game against Anaheim in my hotel room. It was an exciting game so I said I don't need to be watching this in my hotel room. I snuck out -- or I thought I was sneaking out -- to a sports bar to watch it with fans. They figured out pretty quickly who I was and it was exciting to watch it with them. I think the Red Wings scored with like three minutes left and the place went absolutely nuts."

On top of rebuilding an 0-16 team, Schwartz has taken a lead role in connecting the team with fans. He allowed some season-ticket holders to watch offseason practices and seems to be in favor of moving training camp to a more public location so that more people can watch it.

Schwartz: "I think it's important for them just to reconnect with the team. I want them to see the direction that we're taking. I think if you watch practice, you can see sort of the philosophies that we're going to have and you see a lot of different faces and you need to get reacquainted with your team. I think it's important for those guys to see the direction that we're taking."

I can tell you there are more than a few NFL coaches who would resist having fans at practice for fear that video would end up on YouTube or other secrets could be sent out on Twitter. But for now, Schwartz and the Lions have bigger things to worry about and are taking the right approach with their loyal but weary fan base.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • Former Lions draft pick Caleb Campbell, whom the U.S. Army ruled ineligible to play in the NFL last season, is now competing for a spot on the 2010 Olympic Bobsled team. Clay Travis of AOL Fanhouse has the story.

  • Denver cornerback Champ Bailey gave his insight into new Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler during an appearance Monday on ESPN 1000 radio. Bailey: "He reminds me of a [Dan] Marino-, [John] Elway-type of guy, and he's going to be a great winner for them."

  • Brokers are selling tickets for Minnesota's Nov. 1 game at Lambeau Field for more than $300, according to Scott Venci of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

  • The agent for cornerback Antoine Winfield said he has had some talks recently with Minnesota officials but no deal is imminent, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune. Winfield said over the weekend that he was unhappy without a contract extension.

  • Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the Vikings this summer will have their shortest training camp since 2000.