Ihedigbo brings winning pedigree to Lions
Safety James Ihedigbo has something the Detroit Lions don’t — a Super Bowl ring.
The Lions, in fact, are one of only four NFL teams remaining that have never even played in the Super Bowl. The others are the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns.
It’s no coincidence that the Lions’ key additions this offseason all have been part of Super Bowl winners.
Ihedigbo played on the Baltimore Ravens’ championship team two years ago. Receiver Golden Tate, another free-agent acquisition, was part of last season’s Super Bowl champs in Seattle.
New coach Jim Caldwell was quarterbacks coach for one Super Bowl champion in Indianapolis and another as the offensive coordinator for Baltimore. He also made it to the Super Bowl in his first year as Indianapolis’ head coach.
Caldwell hired two coordinators with championship backgrounds, too.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was a secondary coach for one team that won the Super Bowl (Baltimore) and two others that got there (Seattle and Arizona).
Offensive coordinator Joe Lomardi was the quarterbacks coach when New Orleans won the Super Bowl.
Reggie Bush, the Lions’ top free-agent signing a year ago, also came here with a Super Bowl ring.
Can some of those experiences wear off on others and help the Lions get to where they’ve never been before?
That’s what they’re hoping.
"What it means is you understand what it takes to be successful in this league," Ihedigbo, who is expected to replace Louis Delmas in the Lions’ starting secondary, said of his Super Bowl experience. "Having a Super Bowl ring and being through that whole journey and understanding what that accomplishment means, and then you’re bringing it to a team like the Detroit Lions where the fans are biting at the bit for it.
"The players are ready to give what we have to give to get that done. Being able to add that with me already being there, it’s a great combination."
LEARNED FROM THE BEST
Ihedigbo, 30, learned from being around teammates such as linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed in Baltimore.
"Those guys aren’t the best at their positions just by chance," Ihedigbo said. "They’ve developed great habits and done things to take care of their bodies that allowed them to play at such a high level and play for so long.
"Being able to see that and being able to take the things that you do like and the things that you don’t like and implement it yourself, it’s definitely helped me a great deal. I plan on helping teach that to the younger guys here as well."
Ihedigbo, 30, is coming off his best season statistically in the NFL, largely because it was the first time he started all 16 games.
He had 100 tackles, three interceptions, recovered two fumbles, forced one fumble and had 11 passes defended for the Ravens in 2013.
"It comes to opportunity," Ihedigbo said of his impressive season. "When you’re given an opportunity, you have to capitalize on it. I’ve been given a great opportunity here in Detroit. I’m preparing myself to capitalize on it as well. I’m a firm believer in failure to prepare is preparing to fail."
HAPPY TO BE HERE
Ihedigbo reportedly had other opportunities, but he chose the Lions, who are coming off back-to-back losing seasons.
He went so far as to say he’s "honored to be a Detroit Lion."
"It’s a great organization," Ihedigbo said. "The fan base is amazing. They support their players. I’m excited to be a part of that and to join that and to be embraced by the fans and the community here in Detroit."