Thoughts on election? Lions aren't talking about it

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Jim Caldwell

Allen Park — While multiple NBA coaches have voiced strong opinions about the results of the presidential election, Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell is opting for a subtler approach with the media and his team.

Last Tuesday, Donald Trump bucked national polls to become the 45th President of the United States, defeating opponent Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College, 290-232 (with some results still undeclared).

“I try to always use this platform for what it’s meant for and that’s obviously to talk about our team and those kinds of things,” Caldwell said. “The other things, I leave to private settings of some sort. I think the big thing, to me, what’s important, and this is all I’m going to say about it, leadership is important."

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But Caldwell did have one point he wanted to make.

“I do know, for a fact, had I voiced some of the same opinions as our candidates, I probably wouldn’t have a job within five minutes of walking off this stage, but yet a person can become the leader of the free world,” he said. “Again, it’s a different time and place and we’re moving forward.”

Caldwell’s message is in stark contrast to acrimonious comments from Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich earlier this week.

Van Gundy went on a six-minute rant after his team’s loss in Phoenix last week.

“We presume to tell other countries about human-rights abuses and everything else. We better never do that again, when our leaders talk to China or anybody else about human-rights abuses,” Van Gundy said. “We just elected an openly, brazenly misogynist leader and we should keep our mouths shut and realize that we need to be learning maybe from the rest of the world, because we don’t got anything to teach anybody.

“It’s embarrassing. I have been ashamed of a lot of things that have happened in this country, but I can’t say I’ve ever been ashamed of our country until today. We all have to find our way to move forward, but that was — and I’m not even trying to make a political statement. To me, that’s beyond politics.”

Popovich made similar comments a day later.

Not only did Caldwell largely decline to elaborate on his thoughts during his Monday press conference, he also said he implied he has no plans to address the potentially divisive topic with his team.

“I think we have a lot of very intelligent, free thinkers, who have a sense of direction with what they like and don’t like, what they respect and don’t respect, things of that nature,” Caldwell said. “I don’t have to talk about that. We’re going to talk about football at this point in time. That’s all we’re going to talk about. That’s where our focus is.”

Offensive lineman Larry Warford admitted he was surprised, not angry, by the results of the election. He  said there’d been some playful banter between teammates after the group returned from the bye, but any conversations about politics have remained civil, throughout the election process.

“That’s one of the more disappointing parts about this election, the arguments around the nation,” Warford said. “It’s been pretty childish. But I’m happy the guys in here have been civil about it. Even Travis (Swanson). He’s been joking all day, but when it comes down to talking, it’s just talking. There’s no animosity between anybody in here.”

Swanson said the respect between teammates comes from their familial bond.

“We’re all family and that’s what family does,” Swanson said. “Any time you have a disagreement with someone you really care about, it’s not going to escalate to the point where it’s something you have to worry about because we’re so close. People are adult enough (in the locker room) to talk about things, whether they agree or not.”

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

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