Even heroes have heroes
Read any good football cliche, and you're bound to get some reference to warfare.
That sort of rhetoric can get a bit over the top, even to the guys who are usually spewing it out.
"You know, in this business, we throw around words like 'warrior,' and 'battle' and 'battle plan' and things like that pretty loosely, and it was just an honor today to be in the presence of some real warriors," said Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, whose seemingly daily list of training camp included nearly 30 members of the elite 127th Security Forces Squadron, headquartered at Selfridge Air Force Base, who joined the team's huddle at the end of Thursday's morning practice.
"These guys are getting ready to be deployed soon. They're going on about a six-month journey, we're going on about the same journey. So we just wanted them to know how much we appreciated them, and give them a chance to come out today," said Schwartz, who showed up at his press conference, wearing a tan T-shirt, autographed by members of the 127th SFS. "We've had a lot of visitors, a lot of VIPs, out at practice, and those guys haven't been in our circle. It was important, as they start their journey and we start ours, that we all sort of broke down together. We were honored to be in their presence today."
Schwartz has made it an emphasis to bring special guests into practice — whether it be former Lions, local celebrities, or members of the armed forces — to help drive home points.
"Sometimes, when you're trying to make it through a two-a-day, you're getting up early in the morning, you're trudging over for practice, you're going in for a nap, and coming back for the afternoon practice, sometimes it might be a little bit easier if you switch shoes with somebody else," Schwartz said. "These guys are getting deployed, and they're going to be away from their families for six months. It gives you a different perspective, and maybe it helps you make it through some tough times in training camp. Anything that can help us make it through, and give us a little different perspective, I embrace that."