Toxic atmosphere prevented success for Ebron in Detroit

ebronTight end Eric Ebron was never going to work out in Detroit and we are all to blame for that.

The Detroit Lions, Lion fans, Ebron. Everybody. You name it.

For those of you who remain Detroit Lion fans, you often turn an angry eye south to grumble over the success Ebron is having with the Indianapolis Colts. His good fortune there angers you and many of you wonder why it could not happen in Detroit.

Ebron has nine touchdowns with the Indianapolis Colts which would make him the Lions team leader by a wide margin on a lethargic Lions offense. The Lions (3-6) not only fail to score but they are getting run quickly out of games by opponents.

Why couldn’t the Lions get the same production out of him? Why was he more known for drops than touchdowns with the Lions? He scored 11 touchdowns in four seasons with the Lions and the team released him last spring.

Five days later the Colts signed him to a two-year, $15 million contract. He became an instant hit there, but we were never going to see this production out in Detroit. The pubic never forgave him or the Lions for making him a first-round pick in the 2014 draft. The toxic atmosphere played on his mind and he could never play care free football in Detroit. In Indianapolis fans don’t care that the Lions made him a first round pick. It is never discussed or is the topic on talk radio and the rest of the media.

No matter how well Ebron played in Detroit, it was followed by a ” yeah but he was a first round pick and he remains a bust.”

It bothered Ebron. He never got into a comfort zone and Colts fans are benefitting by it.

 

Lomas Brown prepared to rip Lions offense

lomas brownLomas Brown knows his relationship with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter won’t be as friendly because he is prepared to criticize the offense, if need be, as the new color man on WJR’s Lions broadcast.

“I know it’s going to be tricky with Matthew Stafford,” Brown said Tuesday night. “I am not sold on the offense. I hope its a case where Jim Caldwell had the handcuffs on Cooter and it will be different this season. I am not impressed with the offense.”

Brown admits that he is in a tough spot replacing Jim Brandstatter as the color commentator for Lions broadcast, a man he considers a good friend. But he thought the wheels were in motion for change last season when he did weekly Lions segments on the station.

“I think they were auditioning me to see if I could do it,” Brown said.

Still Brown was as shocked as anybody when told he was replacing Brandstatter, who was fired on earlier this week. He thought WJR was going to a three-man booth with Miller, Brandstatter and Brown. About 2-3 weeks ago the conversations with WJR changed and Brown believed he might replace Brandstatter.

Brown said the move was made by WJR because the station wanted someone affiliated with the Lions in the booth. Brandstatter is viewed as a Michigan man because he played for the Wolverines and is the play by play man for their broadcast.  Dan Miller is viewed as a Fox 2 man because he is their sports anchor. Brown played left tackle for the Lions for 11 seasons and lasted 18 seasons total in the NFL. He also played for the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns and New York Giants. He won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Bucs before retiring.

He wanted to return to the Lions as an offensive line coach. Brown was even fitted with a coaches shirt by the team but the club did not hire him. Instead Brown mentored young linemen for the New York Giants.

Brown promises not to parrot the company line in the broadcast booth.

“I am going to try to tell people what I am seeing and with my 18 years of NFL experience” Brown said. “I think my 18 years of playing will give me credibility with the (players) when I am criticizing them. I hope they view it as constructive criticism rather than just ripping them. If I don’t tell the truth the fans will see right through that. My relationship might not be the same with the team or with some of the players but I have to call it like I see it.”

Brown will give up his duties on WDIV’s Sunday Sports Final Edition sports show with Jamie Edmonds in a dispute over money.  Brown said the new job comes with mixed emotions because of his strong relationship with Brandstatter.

“That’s my man,” Brown said. “When they first told me about getting the job I was more in shock. I consider Jim to be a great broadcaster. And Jim and his wife Robbie Timmons are dear friends. Those  are some huge shoes to fill. I thought he did a very good job. I am putting a lot of pressure to not be at his standard but to keep the standard going.”

 

 

 

 

WJR fumbles another broadcast firing

brandyJim Brandstatter  is one of us.
And I thought someone should stand up for him. He is a Detroit sports fan. He wore the maize and blue of Michigan football and he is every bit a key fabric of Detroit as anybody. He is so Detroit that I used to go to my local super market and purchase a chicken salad named after him. What WJR did to the man was unnecessary and uncalled for.
The station fired one of us for the sake of “going in a different direction.” In other words the people that run the station did not have a good reason to fire him. Their thinking is he’s done it long enough so let’s try new juice for the hell of it.
He’s old (68) so people will understand.

Isn’t this the same station that fired Ernie Harwell? I guess Brady should not feel so bad. He is in good company.
They will pump up Brandstatter’s replacement Lomas Brown, but my guess is Lomas will be no better than Brandstatter. He will just be a different voice.  He’s not going to give us exciting insight when the team goes sour because that is not what local broadcasters do in Detroit.
Case in point came earlier this week when Nick Castellanos, who is a butcher in the outfield, received no criticism on FS Detroit when he lost a fly ball in the roof of  Tropicana Field. He didn’t even get a light tap on the wrist for costing the Tigers four runs during a 10-9 10th inning defeat.
I liked Brandstatter in the booth for Lions games. What I didn’t like were the apologetic post game interviews with coaches and players.  I doubt that we will get hard hitting post game interviews from Brown either.

I liked Jim Brandstatter as color man for Michigan football, but his play by play calls are not compelling or captivating.
Everybody who knows him will tell you that Brandstatter is a good man with a good heart. But that’s not the issue here. Was he a good broadcaster? The answer is yes.
Were fans clamoring to have him fired? The  answer is no.
Brandstatter took the high road and did not thrown flames at WJR after his firing. He was blind sided like the rest of us. Now he can enjoy his Sunday’s and does not have to catch ungodly early morning flights after Saturday Michigan football games to catch up  with the Lions on Sunday. This could turn out to be a blessing for him.

The Lions claimed Randy Moss had alligator arms

randy moss.jpgThere was a kitchen that the media and Lions coaches and staff shared in the Pontiac Silverdome executive offices that became busy around meal time.

It was a spring day in 1998 when I stepped into the kitchen and ran into the Lions Director of Pro Personnel Ron Hughes. Outback Steakhouse was grilling burgers and steaks outside while we waited for the press conference to introduce University of Tennessee defensive back Terry Fair to the region.

I engaged Hughes in a little banter and asked how come the Lions were not introducing Randy Moss to the media?

The Lions used the 20th selection of the draft to pick Fair and left Moss on the board who was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the next pick.

I knew Moss had issues at Notre Dame and Florida State. He liked to smoke weed, which is not the worst thing NFL players do.  He was a jerk also. A number teams passed on him because of “character issues.” I believed that the Lions could not pass on him because they were losers.

Hughes gave me that “you don’t know anything about football” look. I was lectured how I did not see game film on the two players and finally said “Randy Moss has alligator arms.”

In other words he was afraid of getting hit and dropped passes over the middle. That was one of many blunders by the Lions.

Moss was notified this weekend that he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after catching 982 passes for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns. Fair did make some all rookie teams but did not become the shut down corner and kick return specialist the Lions claimed him to be. He was released by the team after four seasons. He was also released by the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers before calling it a career a year later during an injury-plagued season in St. Louis.

I don’t buy the alligator arms  theory. That’s an excuse. The Lions were afraid of Moss and his baggage.

The irony of this is that Fair is best known here for punching a wall in frustration and breaking his hand. The Lions claim it happened in a fit of rage after a loss. I heard it happened in a downtown night club because he was mad at a woman and missed his intended target.

 

 

 

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