Lions rookies learn to mind their manners

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Corey Robinson

Berea, Ohio — The Lions' draft picks are traveling around Ohio this week learning about life as a professional athlete, but they already took a crash course in how to live as adults.

Earlier this week, all of the Lions' rookies participated in various etiquette training. They learned dining etiquette at Joe Muer Seafood restaurant in downtown Detroit. They practiced golf etiquette on Belle Isle. They also heard about travel, business and interview etiquette and even how to tie a tie — a Double Windsor and a bowtie.

"It's important just because football is a business," third-round pick Alex Carter said. "Some people don't see that, but it's a billion-dollar business and so you have to learn how to be a professional. So, I think that's what we're trying to do in Detroit is change the culture to become true pros."

Galen Duncan, the Lions' senior director of player development, organized the seminars as he does each year. Some of the like skills taught earlier this week will help the players down the road as outside perception can affect their earning potential, including the ability to receive endorsements. Coach Jim Caldwell also wants players to dress up for each road trip, truly treating it like a business trip.

The difference in 2015 was that the undrafted players also participated. Normally, the etiquette training happens before the rookie symposium, which is exclusive to draft picks, but Duncan said general manager Martin Mayhew suggested all the rookies learn the life skills..

"He had the fruition to see that, hey, these guys are going to be our guys," Duncan said. "Every year we have a couple of guys out of that (undrafted) group that kind of makes it, and if they don't make it here, they make it somewhere else. Whether they make it here or not, they're going to be viewed as Detroit Lions. We figure let's give them something they can hang their hat on; something they can use in their lives."

And for some of the 20somethings, the etiquette training was something completely new. Seventh-round pick Corey Robinson said he was actually watching a YouTube video of how to tie a tie Sunday before learning on Monday.

"It's stuff that most of us probably wouldn't do on our own," Robinson said. "I really enjoyed it."

First-round pick Laken Tomlinson said he learned about how to shop for jewelry, something he knew little about before this week. He also improved his dining etiquette after, as he described, just grabbing his napkin when everyone else did.

"It's important being a professional that you know that stuff because you're going to be put in those situations where you're going to be able to exhibit the things that you learn," Tomlinson said.