Lions' Luke Willson: Matt Patricia's 1996 sexual assault charges not a distraction

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
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Allen Park — Detroit Lions tight end Luke Willson is standing behind his coach and doesn’t believe last week’s revelation that Matt Patricia had been indicted on sexual assault charges two decades ago will be a distraction as the team begins preparing for the 2018 season. 

“We’re professional athletes,” Willson said. “You guys heard what Coach Patricia said in the statement and we heard what Coach Patricia said in the team room and we’re ready to move on and get better at football. You guys all know, it’s a cutthroat environment, the NFL is, it’s a competitive environment around here, so it’s one of those things where we have to focus on football.”

Willson, as well as teammate Devon Kennard, who also met with the media on Tuesday, declined to share the specifics about Patricia said to the team regarding the allegations. 
Patricia, addressing the news last week, had said his message to the team echoed the statement he read to the media. 

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“Thankfully, truth is on my side,” Patricia said last week. “I lived with the mental torture of a situation where facts can be completely ignored or misrepresented with disregard to the consequence and pain that it would create for another person. 

“I was innocent then and I am innocent now,” he said. “Let me be clear, my priorities remain the same, to move forward and strive to be the best coach, teacher and man that I can possibly be.”

Willson, who signed with the Lions as a free agent this offseason, said after meeting with Patricia prior to signing, as well as talking to other people around the league, feels he has a pretty good idea what the coach is about. 

“I believe in Coach Patricia and I listened to what he said,” Willson said. “We’ve had squad meetings before and I feel very comfortable with him as our leader. It’s business as usual around here and this is football.”

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