Unfortunately for Delmas – and the Lions – he hasn’t had enough of those opportunities this season.
Delmas has battled a nagging left knee injury all season that’s kept him out of eight games and forced him to leave two others early.
To his credit, he’s fought the entire time to get back onto the field. He's never cashed it in, like some players might have long ago. Delmas could have looked towards his pending free agency and decided to shut it down and not risk any further injury.
But he didn't. And he won’t. He loves playing football too much.
“I love the game for the game,” Delmas said Thursday.
“(This season is) very frustrating. If anyone knows me, you know I’m very excited about the game. I’m very passionate. Football is my life and for me not to go out here and participate with my teammates and do what I love most. It hurts.”
It’s hurt the Lions secondary not having arguably their best player for most of the season, too. The defense is a whole different kind of unit when No. 26 is one the field. His speed is a difference maker and he's the playmaker the Lions have lacked a lot of times this season.
“He means an awful lot to our defense,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Delmas. “You saw the play he made on a big third-down stop last week. We’ve been in so many games where we’ve been one play short and Lou is a guy that can make that one play in a game.”
So Delmas continues his regimen of one practice a week and trying to do everything he can to make it to Sunday – or Saturday in this case.
“He’s not doing it for any other reason other than he misses the game,” Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. “Truly, I miss him when he’s not around. I was so happy he made a great play, made two great plays last week and saved us on one.
“So, he’s just, he’s a football player and those guys they’re like all dead and buried now, those kind of guys. They played in the old days like that and that’s how he plays. He just goes and plays as long as he can.”
AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
Delmas will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end and the Lions will have to make a decision on his future. The right move would be to bring him back – if the medical reports check out on his knee.
Delmas has been labeled as ‘injury prone’ over the last year-and-a-half because he’s missed 13 games dating back to last Thanksgiving when he hurt his right knee.
What people forget, though, is that Delmas played in 15-of-16 games in each of his first two seasons in the league and started the first 11 last year before getting his knee rolled up on. He missed only two games in his first 43 after the Lions took him in the second round of the 2009 Draft.
“That’s their opinion,” Delmas said of the criticism being injury prone. “As long as I know deep down inside that I’m doing everything I can to go out there and participate and play, that’s all that matters. I’m a reckless man. I go out there and throw my body around.
“Those people that are sitting there saying that can’t do what I do. I’m great at what I do. I go out there and throw my body around. I want to see them do that same thing. If they can’t, then they should keep their mouth shut.”
Delmas does have to prove he can stay healthy before the Lions commit to him long-term. He has to prove he can get past this rough patch and get back to being the player that earned him a alternate nod for the Pro Bowl last season.
He thinks the key to getting back to being that player is the couple months of rest the offseason will afford him.
“The next time we put on pads is going to be maybe five, six, seven months, so it’s the satisfaction of right now,” he said. “Football is my life. Without football…I don’t see myself going 12 months without it, so therefore I want to play right now.
“(But) I definitely think rest (this offseason) is the key. I play two games and then sit out one. Then I get healthy again and play two games and sit out one. I definitely think rest is the key. I’m just going to play these two games to the best of my ability and go into the offseason with a positive mindset.”
An offseason with a lot of question marks and an uncertain future surround Delmas and the Lions.
“The future is the future, I can’t predict that,” Delmas said. “But I can predict this game and I’m playing.”