Twentyman: Titus Young's release shows Detroit Lions can no longer gamble on character

Posted Feb 5, 2013

Lead writer Tim Twentyman explains that the Detroit Lions can't gamble on character in free agency and the draft anymore - they've been burned too many times

A few hours before the Lions announced they'd cut ties with petulant receiver Titus Young, teammate Ryan Broyles tweeted a picture of himself in a running pool at the team's Allen Park training facility with the words "First day running! I'm on my way."

Ryan BroylesHere was a second-round pick from the 2012 NFL Draft trying to do everything he could to get back onto the field so he could help his team win.

At the same time Broyles was beginning his rehab, the Detroit Lions were finalizing plans to release a second-round pick from the previous draft - someone who sat in the same meeting room as Broyles and played the same position – but who'd done everything he could to alienate himself from his teammates, coaches and front office personnel.

Broyles and Young are on completely opposite ends of the character spectrum. Broyles is all about the name on the front of the jersey, while Young cares more about the name on the back of it.

While Young's release can be considered addition by subtraction, it also leaves the Lions right back where they were heading into the 2011 draft - needing an outside receiver to compliment All Pro Calvin Johnson.

A therein lies the problem.

Monday's release of Young marks the second time in less than a year the Lions have had to release a starter because of character issues. They cut starting right cornerback Aaron Berry on the eve of training camp before this season following his second arrest of the offseason.

In all, the Lions have dealt with seven arrests or run-ins with the law and have been forced to release two starters now because of their character in less than a year's time.

Veteran linebacker Stephen Tulloch said in an interview this offseason with that he thought the Lions' issues off the field had started to have an effect on their play.

"I think discipline is the biggest issue, that kind of selfishness, it hurts the team," Tulloch said. "We've had guys hurt the team through their actions, and it lingered. We had Aaron Berry here, we were really counting on him, he gets dismissed, and now you need someone to fill in.

"And I think we've had changes in the secondary 13 times in 16 weeks because of that. It's hard to get chemistry, when guys are hurting the team like that and you feel like you can't count on them.

"I try to put my finger on whether there's a bigger problem, but I get lost trying to pinpoint what it is. We need more accountability. Hopefully we can weed that out this offseason."

Character has to become more of an important part of the evaluation process for the Lions moving forward. There simply isn't any more room for character flaws.

"We'll try to acquire the right kind of guys and we've done that," said Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew in his sit-down interview with beat writers after the season.

"We've had some exceptions with some guys that really have sort of given an image to this organization, but we have so many other guys that are doing the right thing."

Mayhew is right. For every Young there's a Broyles, Matthew Stafford, Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson who do all the right things, but it's the players who are doing all the wrong things that are setting the Lions back.

The release of Young has put the team in a position where they can't afford to gamble of guys with character concerns anymore; they've been burned too many times now.