Both players pointed to a number of factors, not the least of which was the chance to reunite the class of '99.
All three players, Bly from North Carolina, Woody from Boston College and Bryant from Alabama, were drafted in the first round of the 1999 NFL draft. All were first round picks and all are now on the Detroit Lions.
"A special little shout out to coach Dre' Bly," joked Matt Millen, "that's the only reason we got this thing done. I was sick and tired of Coach Bly calling every five minutes."
Bly and Bryant were teammates in an all-star game after the end of their collegiate careers and became fast friends. Bly also grew up with Woody in their native Virginia, Bly went to Western Branch in Chesapeake, while Woody went to Patrick Henry in Beaverdam.
"I remember Dre', we're from Viriginia, we're 'hometown.' He's from Virginia grew up about half and hour, forty minutes away from me, south of me in Richmond," said Woody. I knew of Dre' I heard of him in high school. I followed Dre' when he was at North Carolina. He was picking off a lot of balls and everything, trying to show off a little bit," joked Woody.
"Dre's a great player and I'm just ecstatic to be his teammate now and hopefully we can get this winning tradition back here and get this thing going."
Fernando Bryant, who will man the left corner position, praised the Lions for going out of their way to make both him and Woody feel comfortable -- and they want to return the favor by making an immediate impact on the team's win-loss record.
"We want to win. This thing....waiting on three years and four years, that's not what we're about," said Bryant. "We want to win and we want to win now. Obviously the Ford family and the Detroit Lions want that too, because they're going out here and getting players and a lot of organization are not doing that right now."
Look for those class of '99 shirts on a street near you.
QUOTES TO NOTE
Millen on his what's left to accomplish in free agency:
"It's almost the same approach. I still want to be agressive with it, but if I have to patiently agressive, that's what we are. There are still some people that we have our eyes on, but so do others. But we got these two things done right now. Those are two big holes filled, I mean the biggest. An athletic guard like that, that's got size that can push somebody handle a "3" technique, can still get outside? That's a hard guy to get. That was a highly coveted guy. Then an athletic corner with cover skills that you can leave alone man-to-man, that's another one, that's another one. Those are hard to find."
We still have some holes, there are still a couple of guys that we have our eyes on.
Regarding Barrett Green and whether Boss Bailey will move to weakside. We have some flexibility, I'd like to get something done with Barrett. If we do, we do, but if we don't we have some options so we'll see how it goes.
Regarding the punter: "We're looking there also, at the least you're going to want competition in camp. Yeah, we'd like to get somebody in here."
Regarding Tai Streets: "We could have an interest in him. We haven't set any thing up with him yet. We've kind of been focusing on this first couple of days of trying to get some major holes filled. Yeah, we'd have an interest.
Regarding Darrell Jackson: "D.J.? Our interest has not waned at all. I mean we still have the same interest that we had when we brought him in. But again, it has to be right for both sides. WE just have to figure it out.
Regarding Ron Stone: "I think we still have to look at the offensive line. We still need a couple of more guys there. So whether we draft them or pick them up in free agency or whatever, I still think we have to strengthen that yet."
Damien Woody on his recruitment--"She was in love with South Florida that was a big thing for her basically what happened we went on vacation down there last weekend and at the airport my agent was like 'Detroit called and they are very interested. This is a situation you want to take a look at.' They brought me in and they wowed me. They really brought it to the table and they really impressed my wife and myself and really it was a no-brainer. I just came to the conclusion that this is where I wanted to be."