Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions’ decision to trade Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, March , . Detroit Free Press
Darius Slay’s relationship with Matt Patricia was fractured and unsalvageable, and the former Detroit Lions cornerback said that ultimately is what set the stage for his trade Thursday to the Philadelphia Eagles .
Slay, a three-time Pro Bowler, told the Free Press on Thursday that his lack of respect for Patricia stems from an incident that happened in training camp during Patricia’s first season as Lions coach in .
“He told me in front of the whole team, in the team meeting room , showed clips of me in practice getting a ball caught on me or so in practice, “Slay said. “I posted a picture (of a wide receiver on social media), and he told me, stop sucking this man’s private. So I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ I’m like, ‘Hold up.’ Where I’m from, that don’t fly. Cause I wouldn’t say that to him. I wouldn’t say to him to stop you know what to Bill Belichick. I wouldn’t do that. That’s just not me as a man. That’s disrespectful to me and so from there on it was done with. “
A second Lions player corroborated Slay’s account in a text message late Thursday .
Patricia, whose comment was meant figuratively, responded in a statement emailed to the Free Press by a team spokesperson.
“Over the last two seasons, Darius and I have had multiple conversations in private that I believed were constructive and satisfactory,” the statement read. “My discussions with athletes are confidential and I won’t comment on anything discussed with our players in a team meeting. I appreciate his hard work and wish he and his family all the success in Philadelphia.”
[ Opinion: Lions are worse off, but they had no choice but to trade Darius Slay ] Slay said he was so angry about the incident that former Lions safety Glover Quin, who sat next to him in the meeting room, had to calm him down.
“I ain ‘t going to say (I was ready to) fight because of the fact that I just really kind of blacked out a little bit and really asked myself,’ Did this man just say this to me? ‘”Slay said.” And like I said, with GQ not sitting beside me in a team meeting room, there’s no telling what could have happened, honestly, cause the fact that I couldn’t believe it. And from where I’m from, stuff gets said like that, a lot of stuff happens. … And GQ sat there and was just like, ‘Nah, calm down Slay. Calm down Slay. You know where it’s going. ‘”
After the meeting, Slay said former Lions running backs coach David Walker approached him and said Patricia was trying to make a broader point about staying off social media and as one of the lions’ best and most respected players, used Slay as an example.
“I was real teary -eyed because I got real, real mad and he was like, ‘Slay, man, he’s just trying to … set the tone for the team that some stuff don’t go. He don’t like social media so he trying to post it, make it calm social media down, ’cause a lot of us like social media, “Slay said. “I said, man, I was not trying to hear that because of the fact that I’m a grown man, he’s a grown man. Like I said, I wasn’t saying nothing like that to him to disrespect him like that . I was not trying to disrespect that man in no way because I respect him as a man. But I felt there was no mutual respect as a man but he respect me as a player. “
Slay said he and Patricia had a more “solid” relationship last season, but that things were past the point of repair because of the (incident.
) “Your first impression always your best impression,” Slay said. “Like I said, I would never disrespect him in that way. And for him to be able to tell me I’m out here sucking another man’s crank because of a picture I post, I ain’t like that. And it took me. a whole nother level. ”
One Lions source, who spoke to the Free Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter , said he considered Slay “a major cancer” last season and that “he would sit in meetings and not pay attention” then “go into the locker room and tell other players how the coaches are full of shit.”
“They probably got a different side of me if he ain’t say what he said,” Slay said. “How he approach me, I approach him, so I approach him different. If he was coaching me, I don’t want to hear too much on what you got to say. So if you’re not trying to help me build my game up to help me become a better player for this team, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t need you really asking me about how my family’s doing. I don’t really need you to ask me ( about) my kids and stuff. I don’t want that because you done disrespected me and I ain’t really trying to hear it. “
The Lions went 6 – 12 in Patricia’s first season and dealt with plenty of internal strife as they adjusted to a new head coach with a vastly different personality than his predecessor, Jim Caldwell.
Last year, the Lions went 3 – 27 – 1 but enjoyed a more stable locker room as they turned over a large portion of their roster .
“I m ean, the guys that didn’t respond to it right are the ones that’s already kind of gone, “Slay said. “So if you don’t like how he talk, he kind of get you out of there.”
Slay said he had “a great relationship” With Lions general manager Bob Quinn, and he would have considered signing a long-term deal had the money been right. The Lions and Slay’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had on-again, off-again contract talks that Slay said he asked to table around midseason.
“Bringing Matty P in with me with how he approached me and said that to me in front of the whole team, it was real embarrassing and I just ain’t appreciate that and that’s where we fell off and that’s where we’re going to always be , “Slay said.
tried to trade Slay at last October’s trade deadline , after they dealt Slay’s good friend, Quandre Diggs, to the Seattle Seahawks.
Unable to find a taker for their asking price, the Lions held onto Slay and went looking for a match again this offseason.
The Eagles, who missed out on signing top cornerback Byron Jones in free agency, sent third-and fifth-round picks to the Lions for Slay and gave Slay a three-year contract extension that Rosenhaus said is worth $ 728 million.
Depending on the structure, that deal would make Slay the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
“We talked, but the number wasn’t right so we’re just like, ‘Hey we going to get it. Y’all already know what I’m worth. Y’all don’t want to pay it, cool, ‘”Slay said, adding that going to Philadelphia is a” real good “situation.
“I appreciate the Eagles and their organization for reaching out, believing in me that I can be the piece that can help their team win more,” he said. “I’m ready to get to work now. I’m ready to bring whatever they need me to bring. I’m going to give them my hardest to go out there and win, do my best with my job at a high level and try and do my best to compete and help get ws. “
Slay said he had one other encounter with Patricia that got their relationship off to a bad start, early in the offseason, after he joined Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib and Xavier Rhodes for a cornerback workout.
Slay told reporters upon returning to Michigan that he was not worried about working out with players the Lions were going to face that season. He said Patricia called him into the office after his comments and told him Sherman was using him to get information on the Lions, and that he did belong in that workout because he was on the same level as a player.
“He told me, out of his mouth, he said, ‘Those are elite guys. You’re not elite. You’re a good player, but they are e lite. And Sherman’s smart. He used you, ‘Slay said.’ He tried to say Sherm used me to know what Marvin Jones do. I said, ‘He can find out what Marvin Jones do watching film. That ain’t got nothing to do with me. ‘ What am I going to tell him? I don’t know the offense. I know route combinations, (but) I ain’t going to know the offense. “
Slay said he’ll remember his time in Detroit fondly, he’ll always appreciate the relationship he had with fans and he’ll be rooting for the Lions and Matthew Stafford – except when they play the Eagles.
“I had to get out,” Slay said. “I needed a fresh start.”
(Contact Dave Birkett at [email protected] . Follow him on Twitter @ davebirkett. Read more on the Detroit Lions
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