Gunther Cunningham, the Lions defensive coordinator at the time, went on a rant of sorts in October about Nick Fairley being a throwback player.
The 67-year-old Cunningham should know. He is entering his 33rd NFL coaching season.
When a new coaching staff was brought in after Jim Schwartz was fired, Cunningham still wanted to stay around even though he would lose his coordinator position. He signed a two-year deal prior to the 2013 season.
“What I'm basically doing is game-planning teams,’’ Cunningham told Detroitlions.com. “Jim (Caldwell) asked me to do it on both sides of the ball. That doesn't mean that's necessarily what they're going to do, but it gives me something to really sink my teeth into.
“The biggest thing for me is that the assistants and Jim and Martin (Mayhew) and all of them trust what I'm going to give them. They are doing the hard fact game planning. All I’'m trying to do is lend my experience and my background and what I've seen and what I think when I look on tape.’’
Cunningham told reporters in December that he was not ready to retire. He came to Detroit to win a championship and he still had work to do. His new assignment should allow him for a less intense schedule. Although would not be surprised if he still starts his days at 4 a.m.
Cunningham has kept himself relevant by keeping up with technology and retaining his ability to deal with players who are much different today than they were in 1980.
Before a practice it was common to see Cunningham on the sidelines chatting it up with offensive players as much as those on his defense.
As defensive coordinator he was required to talk to the media one day each week. It was always a treat to hear his insights on his current players and also those from the past such as Leslie Oneal.
He’s a good communicator and even though it was Schwartz who brought him to Detroit, Cunningham seems like the sort of person whose allegiance is to the team and won’t dwell on team politics.
Keeping Cunningham on board is a good move for the Lions. His NFL knowledge can’t be denied.