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O'HARA: Virtual offseason program brings Lions closer together beyond football

The Detroit Lions did more than work on team and individual skills in the two months of the virtual offseason program that ended this week.

They also came together in meetings conducted via Zoom and other platforms in discussions on social issues in matters involving race relations.

It was obvious in media interviews with players such as safety Duron Harmon and center Frank Ragnow, and a powerful Instagram post by defensive end Trey Flowers that recent events have produced an outpouring of emotions from black and white players alike.

Although they were scattered around the county throughout the offseason because of restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lions players came together in discussing the issues.

"It's been a lot of listening and learning," said head coach Matt Patricia. "The meetings we've had have been very powerful. I appreciate our guys and the leadership they've shown through this, and the guidance they've shown through this."

There were no age limits in either sharing personal experiences and becoming aware of them. Ragnow referred to some of the instances as "eye opening."

"It's been amazing," Patricia said. "To me, it's always a great reminder for all of us that great wisdom can come from people who have been around for a little while, but great wisdom can be learned even from younger men.

"There were a lot of really good, just talks and conversations."

With the offseason program over and players not getting together again until training camps open -- whenever that is – Patricia wants the message to remain in the forefront.

"It's not a one-day kind of conversation," he said. "That's what we talked about. It's an every day conversation.

"I think the biggest part of all of this is, the message will stay consistent. We've got to keep listening and keep trying to make change.

"The real issue is, we need to listen to what's going on."

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