Lions talk family, not football, with coaches

Matthew Stafford and Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott

Linehan talked about the quarterback’s golf game Tuesday.

They couldn’t shoot the breeze about much else at the Detroit

Lions Invitational, which benefits the team’s charities, because

NFL employees aren’t allowed to communicate with players about

football-related matters during the lockout.

Weird?

”Yeah,” Stafford acknowledged. ”But we’re friends anyway, so

it’s not like we talk football all the time.”

The locked-out Lions gathered in mass with their coaches and

team executives for the first time since the day after their season

ended five months ago.

Team president Tom Lewand, general manager Martin Mayhew, coach

Jim Schwartz and some of his assistants exchanged pleasantries and

embraces with players on an awkward day at the TPC of Michigan –

just down the street from Lions headquarters.

”Obviously, our interactions will be limited and will be

appropriate,” Lewand said. ”We appreciate them for what they’re

doing by coming out here and helping the cause and also appreciate

what they’re doing to get ready for the season.

”That’s a great thing. Obviously, we won’t be talking to them

about that part of it.”

The Lions are getting together this week, for the second time

this offseason for player-organized workouts, at Detroit Country

Day School.

Schwartz said he has looked at online photos and watched video

of his players working out, adding he hasn’t paid much attention

otherwise.

”I think there’s only so much that you can do without coaches

on the field, I think we all know that,” Schwartz said. ”But any

time players get together, that’s a good thing. Anytime

quarterbacks are throwing to receivers, anytime that you’re working

out next to one of your teammates, I think that can’t help but help

things.”

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson has scheduled a hearing

on the owners’ motion to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit from a group

of players for Sept. 12 – four days after the regular season is

scheduled to start. The NFL and its players held settlement

discussions in Chicago last week, but there’s no sign a

lockout-ending collective bargaining agreement is imminent.

”Anytime people are talking, that’s productive,” Lewand said.

”When they’re talking to each other and not publicly, that’s even

more productive.

”The idea of people being around a negotiating table is far

preferable to them being around a courthouse. The more that can

happen, the better chance we can have success.”

Larry Lage can be reached at http://twitter.com/larrylage