PAWS FOR THOUGHT: Marinelli Should Be Careful

Rod Marinelli just made his first mistake as head coach of the Detroit Lions and it's going to cost him, he'll have to give his players a two-day paid vacation at team expense.

ALLEN PARK - Rod Marinelli just made his first mistake as head coach of the Detroit Lions and it's going to cost him, he'll have to give his players a two-day paid vacation at team expense.

The NFL's management counsel and the NFL Players Association today issued a joint press release citing the Lions for a scheduling violation during their off-season training activity. The Lions players will not be allowed to enter the Allen Park facility on Monday, May 8 and Tuesday May 9 but will receive pay as a resolution for the violation.

But more troubling are reports that during closed sessions the Lions players engaged in contact drills dressed only in shirts and shorts -- that is dangerous.

It's understandable that a first year head coach wants to put in his philosophy, his stamp on the franchise if you will, but it's important that Marinelli not only be results-driven, but that he play by the rules.

Players are not in condition to engage in contact activity at this time of the season. That is why the team holds off-season training, to help the players get themselves into the shape they'll need to be in to endure the dog days of summer when training camp is in full effect.

While some may rip the players and say they are whining over a little contact and cite is as a reason the team is losing, but that is not the case. The average career of an NFL player last four years. While you might see the Robert Porcher's of the league, who play twelve seasons occasionally, no one pays much attention to the Kevin Abrams' and Bryant Westbrook's, who quickly fade from the spotlight.

If a player is seriously injured during such a workout, they leave the game with only the check they receive that month and any severance pay due. There are no guarantees in the NFL beyond the player's signing bonus.

So while Marinelli may want to put his stamp on the team, he'd do well to stay between the lines and not seek reprisals against the players who filed the grievance - likely the team's player reps Cory Schlesinger, Terrence Holt and James Hall.

Detroit doesn't need the NFLPA breathing down its neck looking for violations and they don't want to develop a reputation for being player unfriendly when free agency rolls around next season.

Marinelli will have plenty of time to do his thing. July's just around the corner.


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