Detroit — Darius Slay barely made it through the Detroit Lions’ regular-season finale on Sunday at Ford Field.
The Pro Bowl cornerback was rolled up on earlier in the game and hobbled all over the field as time wound down on an eventual 23-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers. At one point, second-year safety Tracy Walker urged him to get to the sideline.
“I should have stayed down,” Slay said. “I wanted to try to fight, but I should have stayed down. I knew I wasn’t 100 (percent). Not even close.”
The injury was unrelated to a hamstring injury that kept him out of three games this season, Slay confirmed.
The three-time Pro Bowler, who turns 29 this week, said that competing against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Davante Adams was what inspired him to keep fighting, as well as the fact that he had “all offseason to recover.”
“One of the greatest quarterbacks on the planet and one of the best receivers. I just wanted to play ball,” Slay said. “I knew the guys needed me, but they knew I was hurting real bad.”
There was, of course, the underlying possibility of this being Slay’s last game as a Lion. A preseason contract holdout has muddied the waters of his future in Detroit, who drafted him out of Mississippi State in 2013. His four-year, $48 million contract expires after next season, leading many to believe he could be on the move in the coming months.
Slay said the uncertainty of his future in Detroit had no impact on his staying in the game, but he was instead motivated to stay on the field due to the fact that he had “all offseason to recover.”
“That was never my concern, if it was my last game,” Slay said. “If it is, it is. I play this game, it’s business. I just like to work hard, play the game, go home and see my kids.”
Still, he insists that if he has his way, his next snap will be taken as a member of the Lions — though being dealt would have no bearing on his self-confidence.
“Of course I want to,” Slay said. “But if it ain’t I’m Gucci. I’m blessed. To be honest with you, I’m one of the best in this game. I ain’t going to lose no sleep about none of that.”
Slay was given a boost of confidence by the inscription on a jersey given to him by Rodgers after Sunday’s loss.
It read, “I always love competing against you. You’re one of the greatest in this generation. Thanks for making me a better player.”
He reacted to the message by saying, “Coming from him, my heart drops. It feels great.”
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.