Television cameras captured an intense moment between DBs coach Aubrey Pleasant and cornerback Jeff Okudah on the Detroit Lions sidelines in Week 1. Pleasant animatedly ripped into Okudah after the second-year CB allowed a long TD pass to 49ers WR Deebo Samuel, with the coach imploring Okudah to “do your job”.
The optics of Pleasant going off on Okudah caught national attention, enough that Lions head coach Dan Campbell was forced to address it. Campbell was asked about it in an interview with 97.1 the Ticket in Detroit on Tuesday.
“It’s what goes on, on the sideline,” Campbell said in his weekly spot. “It’s high emotions, man, it’s high stress. There’s — and sometimes it’s the only way to communicate, at times. You have to get through, you got to break through that barrier and sometimes there’s players and there’s coaches, when you get one blowup, now you can finally get some work done if that makes sense. And it just happens that way, naturally. I don’t want disruption, but at the same time I know this, that things got cleaned up after that and so, it’s just, that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Many national media outlets, and some local ones in Detroit too, have unfortunately overlooked or ignored altogether the scene of Pleasant warmly embracing Okudah after the chewing out, making sure that the young cornerback understood he was respected and valued. Okudah’s season-ending Achilles injury magnified the spotlight on the confrontational part of the interaction with Pleasant and obscured the tough-love coaching aspect.