Darius Slay will miss a lot about the seven seasons he spent in Detroit with the Lions.
Matt Patricia won’t be one of them.
In separate interviews Thursday with Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press and Detroit radio station WJR, Slay, who was traded to the Eagles earlier Thursday in exchange for third- and fifth-round draft picks, made it clear he did not want to spend another season playing for the Lions coach.
The three-time Pro Bowler accused Patricia of disrespecting him on multiple occasions during the two years he played for him, including in training camp during Patricia’s first season as the team’s coach in 2018.
“He told me in front of the whole team, in the team meeting room, showed clips of me in practice getting a ball caught on me in practice,’’ Slay told Birkett. “I posted a picture [of a wide receiver on social media], and he said, ‘Stop sucking this man’s private.’
“I’m like, ‘Whoa. Hold up.’ Where I’m from, that don’t fly. ‘Cause I wouldn’t say that to him. I wouldn’t say to him, 'Stop you-know-what to Bill Belichick,’ " referring to Patricia’s former boss with the New England Patriots.
“I wouldn’t do that. That’s just not me as a man. That’s disrespectful to me, and so, from there on [his relationship with Patricia] was done with.
“Saying that to me in front of the whole team, it was real embarrassing and I just didn’t appreciate that. And that’s where we fell off and that’s where we’re going to always be.’’
Slay told Birkett he had another encounter with Patricia before that, during the 2018 offseason. He said he had worked out that offseason with several other NFL cornerbacks, including Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib, and Xavier Rhodes.
When Patricia found out, Slay said Patricia called him into his office and told him Sherman was using him to get information on the Lions and that he didn’t belong in that workout because he wasn’t on the same level with them as a player.
Keep in mind, Slay was coming off a 2017 season in which he led the NFL in interceptions and was a first-team All-Pro selection.
“He told me, ‘Those are elite guys. You’re not elite. You’re a good player, but they’re elite,'" Slay told Birkett. “He said, ‘Sherman used you.'"
Slay said Patricia told him Sherman used him to find out about Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones. Sherman’s San Francisco 49ers were playing the Lions that season.
“I said, ‘He can find out what Marvin Jones can do [by] watching film,'" Slay said. “I mean, what am I going to tell [Sherman]? I don’t know the offense. I know route combinations, [but] I ain’t going to know the offense."
While that clearly ticked Slay off, the training camp incident, in front of all of his teammates, was the one that really angered Slay.
He told Birkett that he and Patricia had a more “solid" relationship last year. But he said he never really got over being disrespected by him the year before.
As mentioned in Friday’s Inquirer, Patricia never was a fan of Slay’s. He wasn’t his kind of “culture" guy. They tried to trade him last year, but no one would meet their second-round asking price.
It wasn’t that Patricia didn’t like Slay as a player, he didn’t like his attitude. Patricia wanted players who hated losing with every fiber of their being.
When the cornerback posted a picture of himself on Instagram exchanging jerseys with a Packers player minutes after a one-point Monday night loss last season, Patricia hit the roof.
Slay pretty much tuned Patricia out after their run-ins that first season.
“They probably [would have] got a different side of me if he ain’t say what he said," Slay told Birkett. “If you’re not trying to help me build my game up to help me become a better player for this team, I don’t want to hear it.
“I don’t need you really asking me about how my family’s doing. I don’t really need you to ask me [about] my kids and stuff. I don’t want that because you done disrespected me and I ain’t really trying to hear it."
Slay told Birkett it would have been next to impossible to spend another season playing for Patricia.
“I had to get out," he said. “I needed a fresh start."
Interestingly, he’ll be playing for another Belichick disciple in Philadelphia – Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. But Schwartz already knows Slay – he was the Lions’ head coach in Slay’s rookie season in 2013. Schwartz also has a slightly different personality than Patricia.
“I appreciate the Eagles and their organization for reaching out, believing in me that I can be the piece that can help their team win more,’’ Slay told Birkett. “I’m ready to get to work now. I’m ready to bring whatever they need me to bring.