Nick Fairley of the Detroit Lions is feeling more motivated to play well than he was in previous seasons. Frankly, that was bound to happen with all the criticism and the fact that the Lions refused to pick up his 5th year contract option.
Drafted in 2011, Fairley played college ball at Auburn during the 2010 champion season, where he recorded 60 tackles (24 for loss), 11 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. It was the kind of college season that gets you drafted early and with high expectations, both of which happened to Nick. Weight issues and foot-injury issues have kept him either off the field completely or ineffectual when he did play.
Fairley has recently come off of a medical procedure to alleviate his sleep apnea (where they opened up his breathing passages to allow better sleep, and therefore, better rest). Feeling more rested and energetic, he claims that he can exercise for longer and doesn’t feel nearly as tired during the day. Consequently, Nick has been able to drop nearly 30 pounds of excess weight, putting him back into the form he enjoyed in his final year at Auburn.
Nobody is happier about Fairley’s progress than Martin Mayhew. Via DetroitLions.com:
“It’s an opportunity for him to go out and perform his best this offseason, perform his best during the season and hopefully it helps him become the best player he can possibly be.”
Mayhew made the decision to not take the 5th year option on Fairley’s contract not only to (possibly) save the Lions the headache of an unmotivated player, but also to light a fire under Nick Fairley and motivate him to earn a big contract through solid play.
At the Annual NFL meetings, Mayhew was quoted to say, “He’s a phenomenal talent. This guy can be whatever he wants to be. That’s probably why I’m on him so hard.”
Early on, it appears to have worked in motivating Nick, but time will tell.