Schwartz didn’t end minicamp this week with a morning practice session. He continued it by taking rookies Matthew Stafford, Louis Delmas and Brandon Pettigrew inside the Dearborn Truck Assembly Plant, where they sat for two hours and signed autographs, took photos and passed out Lions gear to surprised workers. He wanted this to be part of his players’ education on the NFL and the city of Detroit…
Stafford signed the richest rookie contract in NFL history. Delmas and Pettigrew have not signed contracts, but it is safe to say they will make more than any of the 500 people who carted off Lions hats, coffee mugs, photos and autographs.
“We wanted them to know who they were playing for,” Schwartz said. “We wanted them to meet the people who were paying their paychecks.”
Rob Webber, plant manager for the Dearborn Truck Assembly plant, said workers were surprised by the visit and that it boosted morale.
“I am sure it did,” he said. “They were very excited about that. But I think it did as much for the players, too. They seemed excited about meeting everybody also.”
Schwartz recognizes professional athletes often get lost in their own world.
Jim Schwartz gets it. He understands this town. We don’t know what his record is yet, we don’t know how all of this is going to play out on the field, but this guy is making me feel good about the hire.
As mini-camps come to a close for the week, Schwartz wants the rookies to understand where they are. To understand the beating heart of this city. Detroiters are tough, resilient people. Yeah, it’s hard right now, but Metro Detroit will persevere.
Yes it’s good PR. Yes the team is owned by the family of an american car manufacturing company. Yes it doesn’t really fix anything, but for those workers, the *people*, the blue collar work force that this city was built upon it made their day. That’s a pretty cool story to tell for years to come and there are going to be some very happy children that got a signed Lions hat this week. They love this sport. WE love this sport. That’s why we read about it and talk about it and watch it and play it on the xbox. Coach Schwartz did a good thing and brought the players to the people. I also think that this is a great step in establishing some roots. The most beloved coaches and athletes are out there in the community.
Of course, the very heart of being beloved by the people in professional sports is to win. Please do that too, coach.