If Lions’ Jim Caldwell is fired, he’ll be missed by his players

The Detroit Lions will close their 2017 schedule with a final game at Ford Field against the Green Bay Packers. There won’t be any playoffs this year for either side, and while that’s a surprising turn of events for Packers Nation, it’s an all too familiar refrain here in the Motor City.

The heavy speculation is that the Lions will be replacing head coach Jim Caldwell following Sunday’s game. While the NFL is a business and players understand that, it doesn’t mean there aren’t special bonds created between them and the coaching staff.

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One such example was shared by safety Don Carey, whom Caldwell invited for an impromptu conversation – not about football, but about real estate, something the both of them shared an interest in.

“We go into the DB room and he asks me for my business plan, and I start spitting it out to him proudly and he has a little smile on his face and tells me I’m doing it the wrong way,” Carey explained earlier this week. “Not that there was anything wrong with what I was doing, but he just knew a better way. So we spend about 45 minutes to an hour on the dry-erase board going over the mechanics of real estate, from his perspective.”

Thanks to Caldwell’s assistance, Carey has worked on around 20 properties, with “lucrative” results.

In addition to financial benefits, players also came to know Caldwell as a role model and father figure. Cornerback Darius Slay holds Caldwell as an example for his own children:

“I think he means a lot to a lot of folks around here because it’s more than football to him,” Slay said. “He always gives out a good message of being a man, and a family man at that and a godly one. So he puts a lot of good perspective in your life with him being a young — well, not young no more — but him being what his age is and very successful at what he does outside of football.

He made it clear that football ain’t always guaranteed, so he lets you know that you can do a lot more outside of football.”

No stranger to the inner-workings of the NFL, Caldwell acknowledged the team’s shortcomings under his four years of leadership. They went a respectable 35-28 in the regular season but lost both playoff appearances at Dallas and Seattle.

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“The great thing about the National Football League,” Caldwell said, “all you have to do is look at your record and we’re just a little bit above average, and a little bit above average is not good enough.”

“That’s part of our business. That’s every year, right?” Caldwell said of being on the hot seat. “I told you guys the story a long time ago about Marty Schottenheimer got fired at 14-2. So anything less than the Super Bowl, obviously it can happen.”

While there has been plenty of heat on Caldwell from the fans and media alike, you won’t find much of that in the Lions locker room. Don Carey certainly attested to that fact.

“I took a lot of heat from some guys on Twitter cause they were saying Caldwell was the issue. I’m like, ‘Bro, Caldwell’s not the issue,’ ” Carey said. “And that’s cool. Fans are going to respond the way they do. They’re hurt, they’re pissed off like I am, like we are, but at the end of the day we see things they don’t. From our perspective, I don’t think anyone in that locker room thinks Coach Caldwell’s the issue.”

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