Allen Park — For the first 10 minutes of Matt Patricia’s Thursday news conference, the Detroit Lions coach fielded questions on the NFL’s new anthem policy, his team’s first OTA and a couple rule changes.
It wasn’t until things were wrapping when a reporter asked about how life had been the past couple weeks, since a 1996 sexual assault charge against Patricia had been unearthed.
Understandably, the coach wasn’t interested in rehashing the topic. Instead, he filibustered, running out the time on the Q&A session.
“My focus right now is just the team,” Patricia said. “The team has been great. We’ve been out practicing, trying to get better. I think they’re trying to get used to me and what we’re doing from a scheme standpoint, from a practice standpoint. This is the best part, trying to get the team out there and kind of get them working together, allow them to communicate and start to grow.
"A football team, as you build that, is a process and kind of a thing that happens through the course of the spring. Get into training camp, build a little bit more, you get to the early part of the season, through September, we grow a little bit more, and then you push for that Thanksgiving date and hopefully you’re playing your best football from Thanksgiving on. It’s really been good from that standpoint, just to be able to get everybody out there and actually do some football things, wear a whistle, yell and scream a little bit at them and get it going. So that’s probably the best part.”
When the reporter attempted to follow up, Patricia cut them off and walked away from the podium.
“I appreciate you guys,” he said. “Thanks very much.”
Earlier this week, the NFL ruled that neither Patricia or the Lions would face discipline from the league regarding the 1996 indictment, which was dropped when the accuser didn’t return to take part in a potential trial.
“Our office reviewed the matter with the Lions and Mr. Patricia, and ensured the club engaged in appropriate and thorough hiring practices and that the Coach did not mislead the team during the interview process,” the NFL wrote in a statement on Monday. “We determined that the Lions handled the interview process in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner and fully and appropriately complied with all applicable employment laws.
“As we learned from both Mr. Patricia and the Lions, the matter was not part of his employment interview process for job opportunities outside of or within the NFL. He was under no legal or other requirement to raise this issue.”