Detroit Lions veteran wide receiver Kalif Raymond is one of the best examples in the NFL of hard work paying off.
There isn't a player on the roster outside of maybe Amon-Ra St. Brown who works as hard at his craft as Raymond does, and the seventh-year receiver was rewarded last week with a two-year extension worth a reported $14 million that keeps him a Lion through the 2025 season.
It's a well-deserved extension for Detroit's No. 2 receiver last year and one of the top punt returners in the NFL. Raymond is coming off a 2022 campaign where he caught 47 passes for 616 yards and had a 13.2-yard average per punt return with a touchdown.
Raymond had 19 receptions in his first four seasons bouncing around the league but has 95 the last two seasons in Detroit and has been a player who's done every single thing he's been asked to do with a smile on his face and determination in his heart.
"Yeah, Leaf's a self-made man," head coach Dan Campbell said. "I mean he's – it's a credit to him. He's the one who gave himself the opportunity and he just proves himself since he's been here. He just continues to prove himself, so like we say, he's somebody that embodies everything we're about.
"He's overcome a lot. He works every day, he's smart, he's productive, he's versatile and he's one of our guys."
That's something Raymond said he takes a lot of pride in. He's become one of the core players in what Detroit hopes is a playoff run for a talented young team in 2023.
Raymond said he and St.Brown have built a close bond based off their similar work ethics. Raymond stopped to talk to the media Monday after practice and saw St. Brown taking extra reps from the jugs machine. When St. Brown walked past Raymond said he was going to take extra reps too when he was done talking to the media because he couldn't let St. Brown outwork him.
From the countless reps after practice to the 202 receptions on the jugs machine every day, Raymond is the epitome of hard work leading to success. All he wants is to do is go to work and earn the respect of his coaches and teammates. And he's certainly done that in two short years in Detroit.
View photos from Day 14 of Detroit Lions training camp on Monday August 14, 2023.
"I come out here every day with the same mindset to just be the best version of myself, and honestly, I don't think that changes," Raymond said of the extension. "I think I come out here and be the best man I can be. The best teammate I can be. Honestly, just keep putting my best foot forward.
"I think at the end of the day the biggest thing I appreciate the most is the respect from my teammates and the trust of my coaches, and I think no matter what I have to come out here every day and earn that. That's my mentality."
Every young player on this roster can learn a lot from watching the way Raymond works and the results it can produce. He's a glue player to this roster and Detroit is lucky to have him for another three seasons.