Stop if you’ve heard this one before: Matt Patricia feuded with a talented football player and cost his team games in the process.
That’s what happened in Detroit with star cornerback Darius Slay, whom the Lions unceremoniously dealt to the Eagles in March 2020. Despite making first-team All-Pro and three straight Pro Bowls, the Lions shipped off Slay for two draft picks. They lost their best corner for future considerations.
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After the trade was complete, Slay opened up about his sour relationship with Patricia. For whatever reason, the slovenly coach dissed Slay multiple times, criticizing him personally and professionally.
Lions fans haven’t forgotten. On Monday night, Patricia was trending on Twitter in the midst of Slay’s two-interception game against the Vikings Monday night. Most of the missives read something like this: “One last f— you to Matt Patricia for shipping out our superstar corner Darius Slay.”
Or this: “Remember that Darius Slay would likely still be in Detroit if not Matt Patricia aka that dip— who looks like a fat pirate except with less football knowledge.”
OK, one more: “F— you Matt Patricia for giving up Slay.”
The first time Patricia insulted Slay happened shortly after the Lions hired him in 2018. According to Slay, Patricia summoned him into his office and told him he wasn’t elite -- coming off an All-Pro season with eight picks, mind you -- and chastised him for working out that summer with fellow corners Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib and Xavier Rhodes because, according to Patricia, Slay didn't belong in their company.
“He told me, out of his mouth, he said, 'Those are elite guys. You’re not elite. You’re a good player, but they are elite. And Sherman’s smart. He used you.' He tried to say Sherm used me to know what (then-Lions receiver) Marvin Jones do. I said, 'He can find out what Marvin Jones do watching film. That ain’t got nothing to do with me,'" Slay said later.
Patricia’s bullying continued in a team meeting in training camp that year when he demeaned Slay for posting a picture on Instagram of then-Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. after the two had gone toe to toe in a joint practice the day before.
"He told me in front of the whole team ... stop sucking this man’s private. So I’m like, 'Whoa.' I’m like, 'Hold up,'" said Slay. "Where I’m from, that don’t fly. Cause I wouldn’t say that to him. I wouldn’t say to him to stop you-know-what to Bill Belichick. I wouldn’t do that. That’s just not me as a man. That’s disrespectful to me and so from there on it was done with."
These stories aren’t surprising. Seth Wickersham wrote in his tell-all Patriots book that Patricia was responsible for Malcolm Butler’s inexplicable Super Bowl benching, and Patricia reportedly is behind Kendrick Bourne’s lack of playing time, too.
That’s the biggest problem with Patricia: he appears to carry himself with a lot more arrogance than his resume would dictate. Instead of coaching football, he seems concerned with asserting his dominance.
So far, that hasn’t worked out well for him. Who will be the next Darius Slay?