Rogers: Glover Quin’s impact with Lions was significant, far-reaching

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Glover Quin

Allen Park – We were all lucky to have Glover Quin in Detroit these past six years.

The Detroit Lions were lucky to have signed a consummate professional, one capable of producing at a consistently high level on the field, one who embraced mentoring young teammates, and one who was a shining example in the community.

Lions fans were lucky to watch Quin every Sunday, without fail. An iron man, he never missed a game during his time with the franchise. The cerebral safety shored up the defensive backfield, an area that had long been a weakness for the Lions, with a playmaker who had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. We’re talking 19 interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

And the media who covered the team was lucky to have a player like Quin in an era in which saying the fewest words is the easier choice for most players. Despite existing in a culture where most are encouraged to say little, he would stand at his locker and field questions for the entire duration the room was open every Wednesday, on any and all topics.

His words were always measured, often with long pauses before he would speak and sometimes in the middle of a thought to recalibrate where he was going. The answers were thoughtful, honest and reflective. He made us better at our jobs, providing clarity on everything from Xs and Os to how he and other players were embracing their developing roles influencing social change off the field.

There’s a reason he’s the only Lions player to win the media Good Guy award twice.

On Friday, the Lions parted ways with Quin. It was move that had gone from a realistic possibility to a near-certainty over the past several months.

Quin, who turned 33 last month, didn’t live up to the lofty standards he’d established in previous seasons. A year ago, he was coming off one of the best campaigns of his career, but he couldn’t carry the momentum into 2018. And even if he didn’t see it this way, it might be because he had a foot out of the door.

For the first time in his career, Quin skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason program. For as much as veteran players will tell you, “football is football,” it isn’t always easy to overcome that lost practice time and film study when you’re transitioning to a new scheme.

Glover Quin

And when training camp came around, Quin’s family was in attendance. Again, that was a change of pace, and subtly suggested he wanted his three boys around for what he might have anticipated being his final go-around through the process.

And when it came time to perform on game days, it just wasn’t there this season. Quin was a step slow, his angles a little off and the results were clearly down. He finished with the fewest pass breakups in his career and without an interception for the first time in seven years.

“All I know is, the one thing that I’ve learned over my years is regardless of what you think, the game will tell the truth for you,” Quin said early in the season. “I might say sit here and say, ‘I feel great. I don’t feel like I’ve lost a step.’ But if you continue to see certain things over and over while watching the film, I might be like, ‘Man, I used to make that play.’

“Once you start saying those things, you have to look in the mirror and say, maybe I’ve lost a step.”

At the end of season, Quin’s weekly media session focused heavily on his future. He quipped that it felt like he was being interviewed at the retirement home.

But we knew. And, despite not wanting to say it, he likely knew, too. His time here was at an end.

Even though there will be a new nameplate over that locker stall next season, Quin’s contributions to the Lions organization will resonate for years.

He set a tone, from the day he signed a five-year contract with the Lions in 2013, often making sure he was the first player on the practice field every morning. And he put in twice as much time into studying film. It was that unending search for opponents’ tendencies that allowed him to intercept passes off many of the greatest quarterbacks of his era, including Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, twice.

Quin would hold offseason workouts with teammates in Houston and always embraced taking younger players under his wing, pulling a teammate aside on the practice field or holding court for a group of defensive backs at his locker.

Darius Slay and Quandre Diggs have long praised Quin’s influence on their careers.

“The definition of a leader man!” Diggs posted on social media. “Taught me so much about the game and life in general!”

If the Lions were fortunate enough to unearth a player of Quin’s caliber in free agency every year, the franchise likely wouldn’t be searching for its first playoff win in nearly three decades, they’d be regularly competing for championships.

"We thank Glover for his countless contributions to the Detroit Lions during his six seasons with our team," general manager Bob Quinn said in a statement. "Since joining the organization in 2013, Glover exemplified everything it means to be a true professional in this league – as both a competitor on the field and a leading voice in the community. Coach Patricia and I have the utmost respect for him as a man and player, and we wish him nothing but the very best in the future."

Now, it’s time to move on. In 2019, the safety spot in Detroit is lining up to be manned by Diggs and Tracy Walker, another young pup who has been groomed under Quin’s tutelage. And the release, with one year remaining on the contract, brings significant cap relief, a little more than $6 million in funding.

But free agency isn’t for another month, so for today, at the very least, let’s just appreciate everything Quin meant to the Lions.