Tyrunn Walker signed or is signing a contract with the Lions today. This move is unquestionably a good thing for the team, as neither Gabe Wright nor Caraun Reid looked ready to jump in and start at the end of 2015. Both bled snaps to waiver claimed players in the second half of last season and neither consistently separated themselves from the unimpressive (other than Ngata once he healed fully) position group. Walker was the best defensive tackle on the field for the Lions in the first four games of the 2015 season, one of the few bright spots in a really depressing period to be a Lions fan, and I think that this decision reflects well on Bob Quinn. He is willing to bring back a player who was a gamble the previous GM bet on and lost, based on the solid – if small – sample of work that was provided, which leads me to believe that he is looking at each move objectively rather than changing things for the sake of change. I am really excited as a fan to see Tyrunn Walker back in the Honolulu Blue and Silver for 2016.
The Walker signing brings to mind something else though, something darker. The world keeps spinning, time keeps passing, but it seems like, at least for a Lions fan, nothing ever really changes. This was not the first time a Lions defensive tackle had been cut down by a cheap shot and had his leg destroyed by an opponent while the referees stood by and twiddled their thumbs. In December of 1991 defensive tackle Jerry Ball had made two Pro Bowl appearances for the Lions, and was coming to the end of what was likely his third Pro Bowl season; until a Jets offensive lineman dove in to the side of his leg, destroying his knee. Now the thing to remember is that in 1991, medical science wasn’t to the point it is now; a single tendon destroyed was not a few months of paid vacation (or intense rehab) and then back to the grind. In 1991, that was all but career ending injury caused by a flagrant violation of the rules, and the player involved was not penalized during the game, or fined afterwards. Jerry Ball’s career limped on for a few more years, but his reign as one of the most high impact players in the game was done. Just like Tyrunn Walker’s injury, the Lions best defensive tackle got screwed over by an official that couldn’t be bothered to protect a player in the wrong color jersey‘s health……….. perhaps if the opposing player had simply grazed Walker’s facemask as he went by in the dying seconds of a game with playoff implications…….. perhaps then it might have been flag worthy. Or perhaps if he had simply been wearing any other jersey in the NFL.
Thanks Tyrunn on behalf of us all, for putting the wrong jersey back on.