Mama always said don’t go looking for trouble. But this is how bad it used to be: Come the third quarter, the game was often so lopsided that the Lions’ offensive linemen would say, “Damn, we’re losing anyhow, let’s go start a fight.”
And they would.
“One time, against Kansas City in 1987, we were just so frustrated,” recalls Kevin Glover, “we decided to start a scuffle, and Keith Dorney — remember him? — he was swinging so much he actually got thrown out. Which was fine by him. But then the official came over and told Keith, ‘Nah, forget it, just stay on in.’ “
Glover laughs. “That’s how bad things were. We couldn’t even get thrown out of a game.”
Everything’s relative. There are fans today who moan about the Lions’ missing the division title, and fans who moan about Wayne Fontes’ misusing Barry Sanders, and fans who moan about Detroit’s having to start the playoffs on the road against Green Bay.
And you never hear a peep out of Glover, or his roommate, Lomas Brown. Because they have perspective. They know what preceded this. This is their 10th December in that locker room, and they remember the years with no playoffs, the years with no Barry, the years under (ugh) Darryl Rogers.
They remember . . . the harp.
“That was unbelievable,” Glover sighs. “Darryl was coaching, it was Saturday night before a home game, and we were at the hotel, in our team meeting. And there was this orchestra playing outside in some ballroom, and one of the women asked if she could play for the team. And Darryl said OK!
“So these three musicians come in, and one is a lady with a harp. And they play three songs. We have to sit through three songs. This is our Saturday night meeting, it’s supposed to be pretty serious, right? I’m looking around and players are laughing and the other coaches are getting hot, and there’s Darryl, saying, ‘These guys are pretty good.’ “
Glover shakes his head as if remembering a very bad high school play.
“You don’t forget the harp,” he says.
Everything’s relative. Roommates for a decade now
Of course, if you’re Glover and Brown, you don’t forget much, hard as you might try, because the other guy is always there to remind you. The center and the left tackle have been roommates since their Senior Bowl in 1985. Their lockers are next to each other today, as they have been for the last decade. On the road, they follow the same routine. Kevin gets the bed near the window. Lomas takes the first shower. Kevin sleeps with the TV on. Lomas listens to the radio.
Ten seasons. A million memories.
“We were talking the other day about how things have changed,” Lomas says.
“I mean, we remember when it was hopeless around here. You had to fight your opponents, and then during the week you had to fight your coaching staff.”
People don’t realize the futility when Rogers was coach. He never made the playoffs, won only 18 games, lost 40. Glover and Brown recall Darryl’s counting the pigeons on the Silverdome roof. Or the time, late in the season, when the team had won just three or four games, and Darryl said, “I’m really disappointed. I expected we’d have won six by now.”
Says Brown, “I remember thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is the NFL. I came from college ball at Florida, an excellent program, and then this with Darryl. His four years here were like four years we wasted.”
Adds Glover: “It was depressing. By November, we would know we weren’t gonna make the playoffs. I’d call home and say, ‘Who’s having the Christmas party this year? Tell them I’ll be there.’ “
He smiles. “Now I’m saying, ‘See you whenever. Sorry about Christmas and New Year’s, but we have some work we got to finish up here.’ “
Everything’s relative. Near the top of their professions
Glover and Brown have two of the most thankless jobs in football. Brown gets to block the opposing team’s toughest pass rusher, and Glover gets to go into each play worried not only about the 300-pound monster breathing in his face, but about snapping the ball into the quarterback’s hands.
Both are near the top of their professions. Brown is going to the Pro Bowl for the fifth straight time. Glover was chosen as an alternate — and should have been the starter.
So you have to like that they are at least seeing the playoffs regularly now, three times in the last four years. Of course, it would be nice if they went all the way.
“I still don’t get the feeling that the town believes in us,” Glover says.
“I listen to the radio and I think they feel we’re going to blow it. That we haven’t accomplished anything. I guess the only way we kill that is to get to a Super Bowl.”
He shrugs. When he and Lomas first got here, the Lions had nameplates on each locker, showing the player’s longevity. Glover set a private goal. Make it to 10 years. Have that plaque one day read: “Kevin Glover, 1985-1994.”
He has accomplished that.
But they don’t use the plaques anymore.
“Hey,” Lomas says, “at least we’re not looking to start fights these days.”
They don’t listen to harp music, either.