by | Aug 13, 1989 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

All right. Settle down. We’ll now take your questions about the Lions’ exhibition opener:

Question: What did Rodney Peete look like?

Answer: He wore silver and blue, about 6 feet tal–.

Q. No, no. How did he play?

A. Well. I don’t want to say he played like a savior. I did, however, see a few fans bowing to him as he ran off at halftime.

Q. That good?

A. Let me put it this way: His passes were sharp. His timing was excellent. He ran the stretch, the option, the scramble, and the love-ya.

Q. The love-ya?

A. Yes. That is where, after your first 30 minutes of professional football, you run off the field and leap into the arms of your coach, Wayne Fontes. Love ya, coach. Love ya, kid.

Q. What about Chuck Long and Eric Hipple?

A. They were seen talking on the sideline. I believe the conversation went like this:

“You know any good Realtors?”

“Hmm. Lemme think. . . . “

Q. What was Peete’s best pass?

A. Hard to say. He threw one to Tony Paige that bounced off his hands and was grabbed by Kelley Johnson. That was neat. And he lofted that long touchdown to Robert Clark with one second left in the first half. Peete also tossed a soft pass to Carl Hairston, who took it 73 yards for a score. Unfortunately, Hairston plays for Cleveland.

Q. So Rodney wasn’t perfect?

A. Oh, no. He threw that interception. He was called for intentional grounding. And he fumbled away the first two possessions. Then again, on one of those, he was hammered by Al (Bubba) Baker, who used to play for the Lions and obviously thinks they still owe him money.

Q. Did Rodney run?

A. Did he run? He rambled. Oh, how he rambled! He took off on a third-and- eight and didn’t stop until 23 yards later, when he saw Fontes screaming on the sidelines, “Get out of bounds! Don’t hurt yourself, for God’s sake!” The last time a Lions quarterback moved that fast, he was behind a wheel.

Q. How about nerves? Did Rodney look calm out there?

A. Calm? He looked so calm, I suspect some of his huddles went like this:
“Red 22, on three. You want to meet at Bennigan’s when this is over?”

Q. So tell us, will Peete get the starting quarterback job?

A. Based on this game? He could have the job, the car, and whatever’s behind the curtain.

Q. What about the stretch offense? What is the biggest difference between this offense and what the Lions ran last year?

A. This year you stay awake.

Q. How about all those little receivers?

A. They look like ants at a picnic. Actually, they’re kind of fun to watch. I cannot tell you all their names, but I think they all shop in the teen department.

Q. Are they as fast as reported?

A. They looked fast Saturday night. Now, if they could just get that part where they run through the linebackers’ legs. . . .

Q. What about the running backs? Can a running back succeed in a pass-oriented offense like the stretch?

A. Not only can he succeed, he might live a lot longer. For example, Tony Paige gained 116 yards on 13 carries Saturday. The most he’d ever gained in a regular-season game for the Lions was 49 yards.

Q. Tony Paige? The blocking back?

A. Yes. You’ll recognize him today if you watch the replay of the game. He’s the one walking around the sidelines saying, “Pinch me, man. Somebody pinch me.”

Q. Was Barry Sanders there?

A. Yes.

Q. What did he look like?

A. White shirt, about 5-feet-10–

Q. No, no. Was he angry? Was he happy?

A. It was hard to say. Mostly he looked like a guy who went to a football game on a Saturday night.

Q. Did he give any indication of his contract talks?

A. He said he only wanted what was fair.

Q. What does “fair” mean?

A. Something between Donald Trump and the gross national product of Argentina.

Q. Gosh. It sounds like a fun night. Was there anything the Lions did that reminded you of last year?

A. Yes. They lost. Also, they turned the ball over six times. And on the first three kickoffs, they drew a penalty.

Q. What does that mean?

A. It means special-teams coach Frank Gansz — who reportedly makes Patton look like a softy — is not a man you want to hang around this week.

Q. What other observations do you have about the team?

A. Mel Gray looks very fast. Chris Spielman looks as if he could beat up the entire town of Southfield. And if the Lions don’t learn to block the blitz, this whole stretch offense will be buried by October. Also, Bennie Blades was ejected from the game for bumping an official.

Q. I thought that only happened to Chuck Daly.

A. Me, too.

Q. Finally, did they “restore the roar”?

A. Let me say this. When the Lions left the field at halftime with a 17-15 lead, they received a standing ovation. I thought I was at a Pistons game. I also heard an interesting cheer late in the fourth quarter. It went: “We want Rodney. We want Rodney. . . . “

Q. What does this mean?

A. It means if Sanders doesn’t get here soon, they might give his money to somebody else.


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