Nick Fairley desperately needs someone to help him understand that he’s on the verge of self-destruction.
That much was clear Memorial Day Weekend when Fairley was arrested for DUIwhile on a visit to his home state of Alabama. He already had marijuana possession on his short off-season resume, stemming from an arrest in April in Alabama.
A stern approach is probably needed to curtail Fairley’s selfish behavior. But the second-year Detroit Lions defensive tackle will see a different angle, a softer form of discipline from defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, who is known for being anything but soft or gentle when it comes to handling players.
Cunningham’s reasoning seemed logical. He said Fairley had already been blasted by many since the DUI arrest. Coming from a different point of view or school of thought would certainly benefit the former Auburn star who had 11.5 sacks his junior year of college.
“He was surprised that I didn’t tongue-lash him for two hours, but I knew he’d already gotten that from eight different people, so I took the approach that I’m going to take care of him,” Cunningham told MLive.com.
The last thing Fairley wants to hear is how he cast negative attention on himself and his organization. And perhaps Cunningham’s words are a way to play both sides of the situation. Those expecting Cunningham to give Fairley a “free pass” on the matter will be waiting for quite some time. He’s taking a sly approach, not an overly gentle one.
But the Lions have to set some sort of precedence with Fairley. It is has to be visible. The Lions have been written about to no end in the aftermath of youthful indiscretions. Detroit must do everything in its power to send a clear message, a message that will directly influence Fairley — whatever that may be.
Some guys don’t respond well to “tongue-lashing” types of talks, as Cunningham said. Others, though, seek out hard discipline that they may have not received in the past. I like Cunningham’s approach to an extent, but part of me is leery about catering to Fairley. If Fairley gets the wrong impression, it’s all down hill from then on out. Cunningham has to be careful when playing both sides.
Initially, the Lions message about Fairley seemed non-threatening. I was part of the camp that believed Detroit needed to be overly-aggressive, perhaps even extreme with Fairley. And I still believe that. But Cunningham seems to have the right idea, at least that’s the way it sounds so far.
“I kind of committed myself as much as I possibly can,” Cunningham said. “I told him wherever he is, I’m going to come find him. If I have to go see his family, whatever I have to do to get him squared away.”
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