By Eric Woodyard

There was a buzz heading into last week’s Detroit Lions game. Not from the Lions, but because who would be starting at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

This quarterback hadn’t started since 2006, lost all endorsements and money, and was forced to do a 18-month stint in the Big House. Despite his long absence from that starting role, both players and fans knew what he was capable of:

  • Excitement
  • Electricity
  • Explosion

“The Michael Vick” experience is what Nike dubbed it!

Remember that commercial? A young, chipper, black kid with cornrows boarded a rollercoaster. He was strapped in the typical orange roller coaster harness, but on top of that he was given a pair of crispy, black/red, Nike Air Zoom Vick 2’s and a shiny Atlanta Falcons helmet before being smacked in the head by the worker and told to “enjoy the ride.” The ride seemed cool and the kid was prepared as a virtual Michael Vick gave him all of the precautions to take before entering the field. Then it was game time and the kid was dropped off in the middle of the field. His mood immediately changed when the Falcons’ center hiked him the ball and he was forced to live in the shoes of Vick for just one play. The ride made the kid participate in a series of jukes and fakes before running into the end zone for a touchdown in the end. In this commercial, Nike was able to capture the essence of Michael Vick at his best.

For three years, football has missed this. By “this,” I mean Michael Vick. The act of watching Michael Vick on his job was nothing like watching any other quarterback perform, it truly was an experience. From his throwing hand to his speed to his on-field swagger. Vick represented the streets. He was Allen Iverson on a football field.

Against the Detroit Lions this past Sunday, Vick brought that excitement back to the sport. It was his first start in four years and it didn’t look like he had missed a beat as he picked the Lions defense apart, throwing for 284 yards and two touchdowns while completing 21 of his 34 passes. Vick also rushed for another 37 yards, showing that he still can do damage with his foot speed when put in that predicament. He led the Eagles to a 35-32 victory, giving Lions fans a first glimpse of this year’s experience. 

When the season began, who would have imagined that we would be talking about Vick in this light? He was supposed to be the second-string quarter back. This was Kevin Kolb’s team right? Vick was also involved yet another incident before this season began, this time in a confrontation after his 30th birthday party concluded and everyone immediately wanted to right him off the radar. His head coach, Andy Reid, still insisted that Kolb would return to his starting role even after Vick’s magnificent performance in Ford Field. Then this happened. Michael Vick is named the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles as they travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars this Sunday. What are we suppose to make of this? I know…we’re supposed to embrace this, rejoice, and be thankful. This is what football needs. I hope everyone is ready for “The Michael Vick Experience.”

*This post can also be viewed on the Western Herald’s website!

Lions at Bears, Week 1 Recap

September 13, 2010

By Eric Woodyard

CHICAGO–With 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Detroit Lions quarterback Shaun Hill controlled the team’s destiny. After receiving the hike he rolled out of the pocket confidently with his team trailing by five points. Looking deep he found the team’s primary target, Calvin Johnson, with his man beat so he let the ball fly in the air. In perfect rhythm, Johnson met the ball in the end zone with a soaring leap over his defender, catching the ball for a touchdown. Immediately after the catch, Johnson ran off the field celebrating with great satisfaction. The Lions win their first road game in three years!

Perfect ending right? This was too good to be true. Fate would turn out to be the Lions’ worst enemy as Johnson’s game-winning reception was ruled as an incomplete pass by officials even after a review. The Lions lose.

Losing and Detroit Lions football games have become synonymous with one another for the past two seasons. Although the season may have changed, the results remain the same.

The Lions lost their season-opener on the road at Soldier Field on Sunday evening to the Chicago Bears, 19-14, in front of 59, 281 rowdy fans. They also lost their starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, from a shoulder injury at the end of the first half. Despite all of these unpleasant hurdles, the team made no excuses.

“It always hurts to lose especially like that but there were other situations in the game that we should have took advantage of but it still hurts,” Johnson said. “No doubt it’s frustrating but like I said, I will say it again and again…we gotta move past it. We can’t do nothing about the call (and) I’m not saying nothing about the referees or nothing like that but it is what it is.”

Johnson ended the game with four catches for only 45 yards. Second string quarterback, Shaun Hill, was forced to step in for Stafford as he connected on only nine of his 19 passing attempts and also threw an interception with zero touchdowns. It is unclear whether or not Stafford will return for Week 2 at this point.

Stafford left the game with a right shoulder injury after being pummeled by Julius Peppers late in the first half. After the sack, he fell to the turf and stayed down for a few moments before he could recuperate. Not being able to shake off the big hit, he wouldn’t return for the remainder of the game.

“It was significant enough that there was no consideration to put him back in the game so we will just see how long he will be,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said.

The running attack didn’t step up for Detroit either as rookie running back, Jahvid Best, led the way with 20 yards on 14 carries. Best did do something unique though. He managed to score two touchdowns and become the first rookie running back to score two touchdowns in his debut since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001.

“They definitely did a good job today but it was an alright first game but I’m not happy with anything,” Best said. “We put this loss on ourselves so we just gotta refocus and learn from these mistakes today and not make them again.”

In spite of the meager offensive effort, the Lions defense played relatively solid. They forced the Bears to turn the ball over four times. Prior to the game, there was a concern about the groin of the Lions’ safety, Louis Delmas, but it didn’t bother him one bit once the bright lights tanned his skin. Delmas had 8 tackles.

“Turnovers create wins obviously and we got four turnovers but we needed to get two more and if we would’ve got six then we probably would’ve won,” Delmas said. “On defense that’s our mentality, the more turnovers you get, the more chances we got to win and obviously we didn’t get enough.”

Regardless of the Lions defensive triumphs, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was still able to pick the team apart. Cutler threw for 372 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He connected on 23 of his 25 attempts.

None of his completions was any bigger than his pass that hit Matt Forte in the deep left corner for a late 28-yard touchdown at the 1:32 mark of the final quarter. After trailing for almost the entire game, this possession put the Bears up 19-14 and turned out to be the game-winning play.

Matt Forte ended as the game’s as the top rusher and receiver. On 17 carries, he gained 50 yards and on 7 receptions, he gained 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had two fumbles.

The Detroit Lions will pick back up action next Sunday as they host the Philadelphia Eagles for their home opener at Ford Field. The game will begin at 1 p.m.

*This post can also be viewed on the Western Herald’s website!

There’s a reason Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver, Chad Ochocinco, thinks so highly of a certain Detroit Lions player entering his second season in the NFL.

There’s a reason he described him as a “safety who will be one of the best hands down with hella swagg.” There’s also a reason he posted this on his Twitter page in mid-August:

“#Onmymoma I guarantee Louis Delmas will be one of the best to play the game at safety, he brings a different style to the position.”

The reason is Louis Delmas. When the Lions took on the Bengals in week 13 last season, although Ochocinco hauled in nine catches for a season-high 137 yards and a touchdown, Delmas impressed him.

“All week (Ochocinco) was ripping and raving, telling me I gotta sit down because I’m a rookie and telling me that I need to be in my place and putting out these little jokes about Detroit Lions football,” Delmas said.

“So I was just ready to get out there and play against him and I told myself ‘the minute he put his hands out there and try to catch that ball and I’m in his area? I’m gonna try my hardest to lay him out!’ So when he caught the ball and started running, I just seen my opportunity and I was like ‘I’m taking this one.’ So that was the most fulfilling hit,” Delmas added.

In his rookie season, the former Western Michigan University Bronco gave Lions fans big plays all year.

Delmas became the first rookie in league history and second player ever to score on an interception return, fumble return and a safety in one season.

He also registered 79 tackles (54 solo) and scored more defensive points than any rookie in 2009.

Still, his only individual accolade would come early in the season when he won September’s Rookie Defensive Player of the Month Award.

Despite all Delmas’ amazing efforts, the Houston Texans’ linebacker, Brian Cushing, almost unanimously ran away the Defensive Rookie of the Year trophy with 39 votes.

Delmas received zero.

The runner-up was Buffalo’s safety Jairus Byrd who was second with six votes. Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews received three votes and Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo got two votes according to a nation-wide panel of 50 sports writers.

Delmas didn’t make the Pro-Bowl, even as an alternate. This lack of respect for his talents serves as motivation for him this season.

“I think it’s not my opinion that counts so I’m not the one throwing in votes and I’m not the one picking myself to go to the Pro-Bowl. It’s up to everybody else so obviously I didn’t prove to a lot of people that I could be a Pro-Bowl type Safety so of course that bugged me a little bit,” Delmas said.

“I thought I did OK, not great so this off-season I had one thing in mind. Actually a couple days after my last game, I had one thing in mind and that’s to be the best Safety in the NFL. That’s been my goal since day one and I’m gonna keep trying to achieve my goal.”

With his fearless hitting tactics and complete skill set, all signs point to stardom for the Florida native.

*This post can also be viewed on westernherald.com!

Nearly three million people were in need of emergency in Haiti, approximately 2 million were initially left homeless, and officials feared that death toll might have reached 100,000

These were just a few of the effects that came from one of the most devastating natural disasters of the millennium. It all happened on January 12, when an earthquake rocked the small nation of Haiti.

Amongst the millions of people that were affected from the tragedy was former Western Michigan University football All-American turned NFL star, Louis Delmas.

“A lot of my family was affected, starting off with my grandma and a couple of my cousins,” Delmas said.

“They [were] affected and we [weren’t] able to get a hold of them yet and I don’t wanna put a bug in anyone’s ear and say that they passed, but reality is reality. But that did affect me and that’s why I said that it’s so important for me to spread the word out there that Haiti needs help.”

In one of his first efforts to spread the word, Delmas will collaborate with his non-profit organization, We R Love, Inc. as well as the Athletic Department of WMU in order to host a barbecue event on Saturday, April 17.

The event will begin immediately after the annual Brown & Gold Spring Game and will raise funds to assist with the relief efforts in Haiti.

The event will last from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the public will be able to eat barbecue, drink beverages and enjoy music. Tickets will be $15 with a WMU ID and $30 for all other attendees.

Individuals will also have the opportunity to meet Delmas and receive an autographed photo of the alumnus.

“We just want to set up a base, since Louis and I are both [alumni] of the university and we hope that as the organization grows, that we will be able to set up some type of scholarship for an underprivileged student – most likely an athlete since that’s where Louis really comes from,” said We R Love PR Director, Royda Urey.

“This is also a great way for Louis to give back to the college, which is also a very informal event where he just wants to come and hang out with all of the students from Western [Michigan] and show his support and hopefully as they come to the event they’re giving back to us as we’re giving back to them.”

According to Delmas, this event is a great steppingstone to further accomplishing his goals of helping the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

“I just want everybody to know that this foundation is made for those lost in Haiti and still trying to support those in Haiti. It’s never going to be enough with the little bit that we’re doing and with the stuff that other people are doing to rebuild Haiti and get them back in school and all that there,” Delmas said.

“So I just want everybody to know that Haiti is not forgotten, even though the crisis happened a couple months ago. [There are] still people down there [that are] struggling and still need help so I just [want to] get their name out there and help out as much as possible.”

For additional information about the event and VIP tickets, please contact Urey at roydaurey@gmail.com.

*This post can also be viewed on the Western Herald’s website and in today’s paper!

Louis Delmas Interview!!

April 14, 2010

 

There was no question that the Detroit Lions’ safety, Louis Delmas had a successful rookie season!

He became the first rookie in league history and second player ever to score on an interception return, fumble return and a safety in one season. He also registered 79 tackles (54 solo) and scored more defensive points than any rookie in the NFL in 2009. He also won September’s rookie defensive player of the month award.

Despite all of his success on the field, Delmas still feels as though he has more to prove. He wants to help out the Haitian community. In an attempt to help out the country, Delmas will collaborate with his non-profit organization, We R Love, Inc. as well as the Athletic Department of WMU in order to host a BBQ event on Saturday, April 17, 2010. The event will begin immediately after the annual Brown & Gold Spring Game and will raise funds to assist with the relief efforts in Haiti.

As Delmas prepares to make his return back to Kalamazoo, Michigan this weekend, I had a word with him in an over-the-phone interview ranging on a host of different topics.

Eric Woodyard: What was the deciding factor that made you want to do an event like this?

Louis Delmas: First and foremost, once the crisis happened in Haiti I automatically thought in my head ‘I need to do something to support and just to give back.’ Being that I’m in the position that I’m in right now, I got a little bit of funds to where I can start a foundation just to get my name out there also. Once I heard the opportunity came up at Western being that they got a Spring game, I thought it would be a great idea just to get our name out there and just to let everybody know that the crisis that’s going on in Haiti is not over.

EW: I heard that you have a little Haitian background in you as well, was any of your own family affected from what was going on over there?

LD: Yeah and you know what man? A lot of my family was affected starting off with my grandma and a couple of my cousins. They was affected and we wasn’t able to get a hold of them yet and I don’t wanna put a bug in no one’s ear and say that they passed but reality is reality. But that did affect me and that’s why I said that it’s so important for me to spread the word out there that Haiti needs help.

EW: So obviously it’s a big difference from being a college student running around to now being in the NFL. What’s the biggest difference from transitioning from college to the NFL?

LD: To me the biggest difference was now instead of going to football practice and having to go straight from there to class and everything. Now it’s just straight football. So when I wake up in the morning, instead of going to class I go straight to football and when I’m done with football, I got straight to film. Then when I’m done with film, I go straight home and watch more film. So you eat and you use the rest room football. It’s all football all day and that was the biggest turnaround for me because I got to be a bit more focused now.

EW: So I don’t know if you remember last summer when I seen you down there on the practice facility when I was working with my intern.

LD: Aw yeah, Aw yeah. I appreciate that so much too man.

EW: I had ended up doing a story on you too about how you should have won the Defensive Rookie of the Year or at least got a few votes. So did that get to you at all to make you work even harder this off-season because you didn’t get the recognition that you deserved?

LD: Oh of course! I think it’s not my opinion that counts so I’m not the one throwing in votes and I’m not the one picking myself to go to the Pro-Bowl. It’s up to everybody else so obviously I didn’t prove to a lot of people that I could be a Pro-Bowl type Safety so of course that bugged me a little bit. I thought I did OK, not great so this off-season I had one thing in mind. Actually a couple days after my last game, I had one thing in mind and that’s to be the best Safety in the NFL. That’s been my goal since day one and I’m gonna keep trying to achieve my goal.

EW: Was it anything that shocked you like the speed of the game or anything in your first season?

LD: Man let me tell you; to be honest with you…people ask me that all the time. I tell people my transition from high school to college…high school was way faster than college!

EW: (laughs)

LD: Exactly! I guess playing football in Florida was just totally different. Then my transition from college to the NFL, college was way faster than the NFL. I guess being that people are bigger, faster, (and) stronger and once you get to that certain age than it’s not gonna be there anymore. It’s gonna be all about technique. Most of the guys that we play on this level are very old or not very old but got some numbers on them so they force their technique more than anything to be successful on the play so I think the transition from here to college is much slower but then again I have to be much more focused and not let anything slip past me. 

EW: Me and my boys used to watch all of the Detroit Lions games and we seen you lay out Chad Johnson and we seen you lay out Adrian Peterson. What was your favorite play or was there anything in general that was your favorite memory of your rookie season?

LD: I would have to say my hit on Chad. All week he was ripping and raving, telling me I gotta sit down because I’m a rookie and telling me that I need to be in my place and putting out these little jokes about Detroit Lions football. So I was just ready to get out there and play against him and I told myself ‘the minute he put his hands out there and try to catch that ball and I’m in his area? I’m gonna try my hardest to lay him out!’ So when he caught the ball and started running, I just seen my opportunity and I was like ‘I’m taking this one.’ So that was the most fulfilling hit.

EW: So getting back on the event, what’s the number one thing that you want the people to take from this event that you’re hosting this weekend?

LD: I just want everybody to know that this foundation is made for those lost in Haiti and still trying to support those in Haiti. It’s never gonna be enough with the little bit that we’re doing and with the stuff that other people are doing to rebuild Haiti and get them back in school and all that there. So I just want everybody to know that Haiti is not forgotten, even though the crisis happened a couple months ago. It’s still people down there that’s struggling and still need help so I just wanna get their name out there and help out as much as possible. Also, I just want the people out there to know that Louis Delmas is not only successful in football but also can be successful off the field. That’s involving media, helping people out, and holding camps…I wanna be as successful as possible.      

*This post can also be viewed on the Western Herald’s website!

 

He came, he saw, he conquered!

Despite the recent Houston linebacker, Brian Cushing, almost unanimously running away the Defensive Rookie of the Year trophy with 39 votes, Detroit’s Louis Delmas deserved it more.

How did the voters on the panel repay him for his outstanding efforts? Zero votes! Nada…Zip. He didn’t even receive a consideration. Not even a nod or a pound.

The runner-up was Buffalo’s safety Jairus Byrd who was second with six votes. Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews received three votes and Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo got two votes.

Delmas also didn’t make the Pro-Bowl as an alternate. Even after becoming the first rookie in league history and second player ever to score on an interception return, fumble return and a safety in one season. He also registered 79 tackles (54 solo) and scored more defensive points than any rookie in the NFL in 2009. Yet still, his only individual accolade would come early in the season when he won September’s rookie defensive player of the month award.

What more did he have to do? Suit up on offense too and play the whole game? Him not even receiving just ONE vote is unfair.

Although the whole world knows that the Detroit Lions are nothing to brag about as they finished the season with another pathetic overall record, 2-14, Louis Delmas gave fans something to rave about. After being selected with the first pick of the second round by the Lions in the latest NFL Draft out of  Western Michigan University (Go Broncos!!), Delmas hit players harder than a 80’s Tyson blow!

Like the time when he laid out the loud-mouthed Chad Ochocinco. Or the time he went helmet-to-helmet with the great Adrian Peterson. And I almost forgot about the tried to knock the lights out of  the Green Bay Packers’ tight end Jermichael Finley on Turkey Day (which he was later fined for).

The dreaded up 5-11, 202 pound, Florida native let his presence be felt from day one. He didn’t even take it easy on teammates even in training camp as he sparked a light brawl after leveling running back Aveion Cason in a drill when he tried to step into his office (aka the goal line).

Bobby Boucher is what I like to call him…

His toughness and leadership drove him into frenzy this season. At times, I think his quest for winning and wanting to be the best at his position sometimes pushes him over the edge and sometimes paints him in a bad light. Like when Detroit News reporter, Tim Twentyman, described him after the 31-24 loss to Arizona.

Twentyman said: “Rookie safety Louis Delmas couldn’t hold back his following Detroit’s 31-24 loss to Arizona, the team’s 12th loss this season. Delmas tossed his chair aside and was visibly upset when reporters approached him in the locker room after the game. He asked reporters why they were coming over to talk to him after another (expletive) loss.

Veteran tackle Jon Jansen, whose locker is a few down from Delmas’, quickly came over and wrapped his arm around the rookie. Jansen whispered something in his ear, as did a Lions official who was nearby.

Delmas paused for a moment, turned to reporters, apologized, then granted an interview.”

But what fans don’t understand is that Delmas may be looking at the situation as ‘Hey, this losing is only weakening my chances for being considered the best.’ He wants to be placed in the same sentence as Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh), Ed Reed (Baltimore), Brian Dawkins (Denver) and Bob Sanders (Indianapolis) and he has no problem saying it!

“I look at Polamalu and that’s where I get my hairstyle from. I look at Ed Reed for ballhawk purposes — he’s a beast out there. To be put in the same category, I’d be excited,” Delmas told the Detroit News after the Lions loss to the Cardinals. He had just returned an interception after gaining 101 yards for a touchdown.

Since his days as a Bronco, I have personally witnessed Delmas progress into this devastating athlete that he has become today. I can remember one game in particular in his sophomore year, my freshman year, in which the Broncos played the Eastern Michigan Eagles. Despite being down for almost the entire game, Delmas took over in the final quarter which propelled his team to a victory.  He also  recorded fourth interception and returned it for 28 yards in that game.

Since that game, I have been convinced that he would be a star. Never have I personally saw a safety dominate in the fashion that I have seen him dominate and to be able to do the same in professional football as he did in college is unreal.

At times, I think professional sports are too fixated on wins and losses when it comes to awarding individual accolades. When a player is on a winning team and has decent stats, than he is billed as “Mr. Everything” but the second that team starts to lose than they are placed in the same category as any average Joe.

While this is unfair, this is what I think happened to Louis Delmas this season. Playing on a losing team has rewarded him with losing results but in my opinion, No. 26 for the Detroit Lions is still the REAL Defensive Rookie of the Year!

*This column can also be viewed in the Western Herald on Thursday, January 14, 2010!