Taylor Decker has tattoo of a lion on his chest, military on his arm

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The tattoo was drawn on his chest and even though it is of a lion, it has a much different meaning for new Detroit Lions offensive tackle Taylor Decker.

It actually signifies his late grandmother, who had a statue of a lion with a headdress on it in her home before she passed away. The statue is now in the possession of Decker's mother, Sheila, because he has been on the move and doesn’t have a permanent home yet.

“I kind of got that for something my grandma, with like a Native American headdress on it,” Decker said Friday. “I’m probably like a 16th native, but she was really, really into that. In her house she had all these figurines and things like that and when she passed away that’s what I remembered of her, going over to her house and seeing all of that.

“I actually have the lions that I always saw in her house now. So that was for my grandma.”

Tattoos hold significance for Decker. He doesn’t put things on his body for the heck of it. Every tattoo has meaning, as he explained in a story last year on Cleveland.com. Each tattoo has a story behind it.

He also has tattoos on one of his arms honoring the military. He has two older brothers who have served in the Marines and the Navy. Decker said Friday if football had not worked out for him – and it clearly did because he was the No. 16 pick in the 2016 NFL draft – protecting and serving his country would have been an option.

“The people that you look up to, the people that you grew up with, they go that route, you look up to them and you want to be like them,” Decker said. “I always wanted to play football, but had that not worked out for me, you know, like I said, I have a ton of respect for the military and what they do, so it could have been something for me.”

Having brothers who have served put football in perspective for Decker. It’s why he wanted to have military tattoos on his body, as a reminder of his family and to show respect for those who serve.