It's almost preposterous that on May 29, at a rare time when NFL news fades into the background, the Detroit Lions have already issued a statement from one player who reportedly punched another -- and are certain to face questions in a few hours about another player who has been arrested twice in two months. Yet that's where the Lions found themselves Tuesday as they prepared for their second of three organized team activities (OTAs) that are open to the media.
Receiver Titus Young, who reportedly sucker-punched safety Louis Delmas several weeks ago, issued a statement via the team's web site apologizing for recent actions that "have not always been up to the standards the Lions expect or the standards that I expect from myself." Young said his absence from last week's OTAs was "necessary for both myself and the team" and implied his absence -- whether self-initiated or mandated by the team -- is over.
(Indeed, media members covering the Lions' OTA report he is back on the field and practicing.)
To me, Young's future success with the Lions depends on two things -- only one of which he can control. First, Young needs to start acting like an adult. Second, his teammates need to accept him back into their circle. No one is beyond reproach, but thuggery against a teammate -- especially a team pillar like Delmas -- might be more difficult to forgive.
Meanwhile, it appears the Lions haven't taken any immediate action against defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who like Young was present at Tuesday's OTA.
Fairley was arrested over the weekend for driving under the influence and attempting to elude police in his home state of Alabama. He was also arrested in April for misdemeanor marijuana possession, and it's quite possible that the combination of events could lead to an NFL suspension.
Coach Jim Schwartz is to speak with reporters after the practice, and I imagine he'll face a series of questions about Young' return, Fairley's status and what if anything he thinks about the cumulative nature of his team's offseason away from the field.
Frankly, as we discussed on Twitter, this to me seems like a rare occasion when general manager Martin Mayhew should join Schwartz at the podium. Mayhew keeps a low public profile and doesn't speak publicly often, while Schwartz is required to speak to reporters regularly by NFL rule. But off-field problems are a reflection of character as much as a coach's discipline procedures.
As the person ultimately responsible for evaluating the character of every player drafted, Mayhew should share in whatever public accountability the Lions take. Normally Mayhew speaks around the draft, at the start of training camp, and at the end of the season. It's preposterous that he should be compelled to address the media in late May, but such is the state of the Lions at the moment.