"That’s how I coach,” he said. “When you put that kind of mindset on it, it wears you out. I can’t talk – my voice goes.”
Cunningham was still trying to get his voice back Tuesday, which is why he marvels at how safety
And he still has a full tank on Sunday, too.
“That’s why I love No. 26,” he said. “He’s my kind of guy. Ray Lewis is that kind of guy.”
Cunningham sees a value in players who lead by example, but believes those who take on the role of vocal leader take things to an unmatched level.
“(It's about being) a quarterback in the NFL, being the team leader," said Cunningham. "Like Matt (Stafford) is; I wouldn’t want that job for even as much money as he makes. It’s tough to handle that.”
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said during his Monday press conference that beyond the seven tackles and two tackles for loss and the interception in Sunday’s 26-23 overtime victory against the Eagles, it’s the emotion he brings every single day that’s immeasurable.
“You could feel that the week during practice,” Schwartz said. “You could feel that the night before the game. You could feel it in the locker room. You could feel it pre-game warm-ups, and that’s just one of the things that Delmas brings to the table.”
The Lions had Delmas wired for sound this week, and it can be tiring just watching him on game day.
Cunningham was expecting Delmas to have some impact Sunday, but said even he wasn’t expecting what he got.
“If anybody told you that they anticipated him playing like that, they’re out of their mind or they don’t know anything about this game,” he said. “We always anticipate a guy coming back making an impact and then we look at the tape and go, ‘Hmm, the guy’s about three weeks out.’ And that’s the way it usually is. Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s like that.”
It certainly would have been logical for Lions coaches to feel that way about Delmas, too.
Before Sunday, he hadn’t played in a game since last year’s playoff loss to the Saints, and even then he wasn’t 100 percent. Before that he missed the last five games of the regular season. Sunday was really the first game Delmas has physically been ready to compete for almost nine months.
“With this guy? This is one of the most rare, rare things I’ve seen in a game,” Cunningham said. “I’ve never seen a guy out for that length of time and to play with the intensity and have the emotion prior to the game and to know everybody’s looking at you. A lot of people say he’s the leader of the defense. I think Lou Delmas is a lot more than that.”