It was pretty clear Duce Staley wouldn’t have left the Detroit Lions under normal circumstances without a promotion, but his departure to the Carolina Panthers was a unique circumstance.
Shy of getting a head coaching or offensive coordinator job elsewhere, Duce Staley may not have left his post as Detroit Lions assistant head coach and running backs coach anytime real soon. So when news surfaced he was leaving for the Carolina Panthers on Feb. 1, it was certainly a shocker.
Justin Rogers of The Detroit News reported at the time that Staley was headed to the Panthers to be closer to his mother, who is having health issues. Staley is a South Carolina native, and an alum of the “other” USC.
It wound up being a lateral job move for Staley, who also was on the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff with new Panthers head coach Frank Reich for two years in 2016 and 2017.
Staley had an introductory press conference on Thursday. He explained his decision to leave the Lions, and confirmed the biggest reason why.
Duce Staley explains his decision to leave the Lions for the Panthers
Here’s some of what Staley had to say, via Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit:
"It feels good to be back close to home,” Staley said. “Just growing up as a kid being in South Carolina during the time—’95, ‘96 the Panthers got going there. As a kid you always dream about if you’re playing in the NFL, you want to play close to home. So the Panthers were definitely one of those teams that I thought about hopefully drafting me. Didn’t happen, but here I am now.”"
He then talked about his mom, without getting into any specifics on her situation (as he shouldn’t if he doesn’t want to).
"She’s my heart, she’s my rock,” Staley said. “So if I had an opportunity to come home, I said to myself for a long time, I would.”"
Staley did mention his tie to Reich as another factor in his move, as well as similarities he sees between the Lions and the Panthers. He even used the word grit, twice.
Sometimes, if not oftentimes, job decisions are driven by deeply personal things. Football coaches are no different, and I think we all can understand why Staley took the opportunity to be closer to home.