Salad vs. dinner fork? Tying a bow tie? Lessons learned by Lions this week

DETROIT -- Graham Glasgow was dumbfounded. The football, he knows, and the Detroit Lions rookie was good enough at the game to be drafted in the third round this spring.

What the Lions had been teaching their players on the side recently, though, was something completely different. They were things he had never really thought about before: proper dining etiquette, how to tie a tie and a bow tie, and advice on buying both jewelry and suits.

It’s all part of the process set up by Detroit Lions director of player development Dr. Galen Duncan, who customized his own rookie symposium this season after the league did away with the league-wide symposium.

“Well, I don’t know how to tie a bow tie and I still don’t know,” Glasgow said. “It really confused me. There’s a couple things that he really taught us that I got a lot of value in and I mean, just the fine-dining things. I didn’t know what all the forks were for and it’s still mind-blowing that I didn’t know that.”

Glasgow said he tried to tie a bow tie twice -- and it went poorly the first time and worse the second time, so he’ll just stick with the traditional necktie. He was instructed on different forks in a dinner setting (salad, dinner, dessert) and the value of a teaspoon for coffee.

“I didn’t know what was going on at all,” Glasgow said. “You’d think, I’ve been to a couple events and I’ve been just a bull through a china shop just ruining everything, just drinking other people’s waters.”

First-round pick Taylor Decker also picked up a bunch of tips in the dining portion of the extra week the rookies spent in Detroit. He said he’s been to several dinners before and had no idea what the various silverware options were for.

“Just to be able to, you’re going to have opportunities to have dinners with prominent people and you want to know what you’re doing,” Decker said. “All that stuff. Just start outside [with silverware] and work your way in.”

The dining and tie-tying were only part of the rookie program to help them transition from college to the NFL off the field. The time-management lecture helped second-round pick A'Shawn Robinson, who said it even got him to start thinking about life after the NFL.

Robinson was good with the tie-tying, though, as he said he wore a bow tie throughout high school, including to his school's homecoming dance. He’s actually gone away from the bow tie lately “because everyone wears bow ties now” and instead has been rocking the skinny necktie.

Duncan said his program is similar to the league’s old program, just instead of having it at a central location in Ohio, each team is doing it on its own. He still has the financial-planning seminar, career development, a continuing-education program and some of the etiquette programs put on by Scarlet Communications in Detroit.

“Some of it is getting these guys acclimated to being adults, to being professionals,” Duncan said. “It would be great if we could do that for all people that get out of college.”

The Lions did alter their program, though, taking out the tour of the city of Detroit this year because there were other things they felt were more important. Duncan said he had Dominic Raiola, a longtime Lions center and current assistant strength coach with the team, address the rookies. He also had coaches speak to them about the direction of the franchise and things as simple as how to take better notes.

“Just kind of getting them acclimated in how to be a professional now,” Duncan said. “And not just a professional athlete.”