ALLEN PARK - New Lions coach Rod Marinelli believes that winning doesn't just happen. It's the result of hard work, the correct attitude and -- perhaps most important of all -- good work habits and high standards.
If nothing else, he hopes to get that established in the Lions' first mini-camp of the spring.
"Very important," Marinelli said. "You may be running wind sprints and you get tired. You start coming apart when you're fatigued. It may be a little thing -- lining up behind the line before you run."
As far as Marinelli is concerned, there will be no fudging at the starting line. He wants no corners cut, no shortcuts taken. If the Lions are to have any chance at pulling out of a five-year swoon in which they have won only 21 games, it will start with the bottom.
"Everybody's behind the line when you blow the whistle," he said. "It's trying to do things right under duress, which our game is built on. You try to create that for them.
"It's not what you're doing. It's not running the wind sprints. It's how you're running the wind sprints. That relates to the game. That's big to me. Then you get the habits you're trying to create."
Marinelli has been careful to avoid comparisons or criticism of previous coaching staffs but veteran NFL observers felt the Lions had become a soft, undisciplined team in recent seasons under former coaches Marty Mornhinweg and Steve Mariucci.
As a result, the team played soft and undisciplined football. Young players did not establish necessary work habits and the Lions wallowed through the past five seasons with records of 2-14, 3-13, 5-11, 6-10 and 5-11.
Before they can change the results, however, Marinelli will have to change the approach, and the voluntary three-day mini-camp will give the Lions their first taste of what to expect when they start camp in July.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Losing is tough on every man, every person. Probably the fun part of the whole thing is fighting your way through all the losing, all the negativity, the unbelievers." -- Lions coach Rod Marinelli on the challenge of changing the culture of losing in Detroit