The Detroit Lions are at rare juncture in which there isn’t too much negativity surrounding their franchise. Winners of four of five games and a NFC NORTH championship on the radar, it is not a bad time to be a Lions fan. However, a small bit of controversy returned to the practice field this week in the form of DeAndre Levy. A player adored by fans for several years is having his character and priorities called into question.
Levy received a $33 million contract extension before the start of last season with the hope he would lead the Lions defense. That plan has not been going smoothly with Levy only playing in two out of a possible 25 games since receiving the extension.
CALM BEFORE THE STORM
Levy was taken by Detroit in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft and worked his way up to the top of the depth chart over the course of five years. Following the departure of Stephen Tulloch, the fan favorite, Levy, was rewarded with that previously mentioned lucrative contract extension. The city was optimistic and the future was looking bright.
After the extension was signed in 2015 Levy got hurt in training camp before he could even play in a regular season game. He wound up missing the first four regular season games, and returned in week five to play the Arizona Cardinals and didn’t even make it through the first half. He re-injured his hip and never saw the field again in the 2015 season, after being shut down by Lions coach Jim Caldwell.
2016 was supposed to start the reign of Levy with almost a full year of rehab he was going to dominate opposing teams. Then Levy took the field in week one and surprise, surprise, he got hurt again…supposedly.
Levy went down in that opening game and has missed nine weeks since. He has not been at practice, on the sidelines at games, or even spoken to the media since the injury. He has simply been listed as “OUT” on the injury report, and all media speculation has been just that, speculation. His passion for the game has been called into question by fans, and he’s done more to hurt his case than help it.
During his absence from the field Levy has remained outspoken on issue of the NFL and its treatment of players. This is often voiced in pieces he writes for the Detroit Free Press, where he criticizes the league’s money hunger nature and them choosing money over the health of their players, among other topics.
Those comments didn’t sit that well with the Lions fan base, it was as if he no longer cared about the game. They were given nothing of any substance of Levy’s injury, and he was talking about anything and everything, except what they actually wanted to know. This led to hate comment after hate comment on every platform imaginable, from social media to local radio programs, fans were not holding back. The once adored player no longer held a special place in fans hearts, but instead filled it with anger and frustration.
Hope may seem lost for Levy but if sports have proven anything it is fans can come back on a player’s side. It has been seen with likes of LeBron James and even here in Detroit with Ben Wallace.
Levy has started bridging that gap by returning to practice this week, and it appears he will play on Thanksgiving Day. This is all sounds great, but the fans skepticism will remain in place until they see the effort Levy puts forth on the field. And, until he can prove he is committed to playing this game and earning his lucrative contract, fan complaints have validity to them.