Tracy Walker exposes Matt Patricia for ‘Eighty-nine and one' mantra that ruined Detroit Lions
According to Tracy Walker, entering the professional football scene under former Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia was far from welcoming. In an explosive interview with Tyler Dune of Go Long, Walker reminisces on Patricia's oppressive style, constantly reminding players of the mantra “Eighty-nine and one.”
Tracy Walker exposes Matt Patricia
Walker told Dune that Patricia's “Eighty-nine and one” mantra pertains to the coach’s zero-tolerance attitude: if any of the 90 players during the training camp didn’t adhere strictly to his rules, they were shown the exit. Walker's account indicates that Patricia’s approach wasn’t just strict; it was dictatorial. Anyone who dared to speak up, regardless of their status on the team, faced repercussions.
“He’d be like, ‘To hell with you. Go (expletive) yourself. This is the way we do it. If you don’t like it, hit the (expletive) road,’” Walker says. “He didn’t shy away from telling you how he felt. If you got 89 that are all on-board and you’ve got one guy who isn’t? Well, ‘(expletive)' this one guy. We’ll bring another guy in.’ But everyone can’t be replaced. That philosophy is why we were put in a lot of bad situations and why we lost a lot of bad games.
“We played a lot of bad ball around here — because of that reason.”
Notable figures like Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay were shown the door, with Walker suggesting that Patricia’s leadership even pushed some, like Glover Quin, into premature retirement.
“All the guys who said something, they got out of here. Literally. That ‘89 and 1’ was a real thing,” Walker says. “This is what I mean by ‘Do what I say or you’re gone. Hit the highway. I will find another place for you. I don’t care how good of a player you are.’”
Walker said he once hated coming to work, but that has changed now that Patricia is long gone.
“I (expletive) hated coming in,” he says. “Guys used to hate it here.”
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- Tracy Walker recalls a dictatorial leadership style by ex-coach Matt Patricia.
- Notable players faced dire consequences for slight deviations or speaking out.
- Patricia’s attempt to mirror Bill Belichick’s methods led to a toxic Lions' environment.
Bottom Line – A Coach's Playbook: More Than X's and O's
While strategy and discipline are integral to a football team’s success, the heart and soul of any team remain its players. The Detroit Lions’ experience under Patricia serves as a poignant reminder that a coach’s playbook should go beyond tactics. It should encapsulate the art of managing people, understanding their needs, and creating an environment where they feel valued and motivated. After all, in the game of football, as in life, it's not just about directing players; it's about leading them.