GREEN BAY – Matt Brock had no idea what he was starting when he shared a somewhat plausible story on the radio this week as a possible explanation for why Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh stomped on Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving.
In short: Shoelace-gate is a whopper of a fish tale – although it does have a basis in reality. Just not in NFL reality.
Brock, the former Packers defensive lineman and a former teammate of current Packers offensive line coach James Campen, said in a radio interview on KXTG in Portland, Ore., that the reason Suh went ballistic on Dietrich-Smith on Nov. 24 was because the Packers were untying Suh’s shoes at the bottom of post-play piles.
Here’s how Brock told the story: “My friend, James – man, I probably shouldn't say his name, he told me not to tell this, and I was like, ‘Whatever’ – he’s the offensive line coach. The center, or one of his guards, he's had like one or two starts in his career and he's got to play against Suh. So he's pretty puckered, right? So, he’s talking to James, the offensive line coach, going, ‘What do I do? What do I do?’
"James is just in his mind going, ‘This guy is going to get killed. I got to take his mind off it, give him something else to do.’ So he says, ‘OK, every time you're in a pile, I want you to focus on something. I want you to untie his shoes.’ (The player) goes, ‘What?’ (James says), ‘Anytime you can, just reach in, he's got floppy shoe laces, he doesn't spat or anything, just untie his shoes. It will irritate him.’
“He untied his shoes three times in the game. That's why he stomped him. That's why he banged his head on the ground and he stomped him.”
As it turns out, Brock was trying to have some fun at his old friend’s expense. The two remain close – Campen is the godfather to Brock’s children – but apparently Brock didn’t know how quickly stories can spread on the internet. Both Campen and Dietrich-Smith were asked about the incident on Thursday.
“I have no clue where that story spawned from,” Dietrich-Smith said.
But Campen did. “I would say that (Brock) is having some fun with me, yes. I’ve already talked to him.” Asked if he instructed his players to untie Suh’s shoes, Campen replied: “No. Absolutely not. We have more important things to worry about that tying up someone’s shoes during a game. Absolutely ridiculous.”
In fact, according to Brock, that situation actually did happen – it just happened in Portland when Brock was coaching against Suh. Brock, who was an honorary alumni captain at a recent Packers home game, then decided to apply his real-life story to Campen’s situation.
“My high school team was playing his high-school team, and my guys were scared. They said, ‘What are we going to do?’” Brock said in an interview with John Maino on Green Bay radio station WNFL (1440 AM) on Thursday. “I said, ‘Well, he’s going to kill you, No. 1, but No. 2, what you’ve got to do is … untie his shoelaces, whatever. He’ll get frustrated and get a penalty.’ Well, it so happens that he got frustrated, took a swing at one of our players and he got kicked out of the game.
“So I told James, ‘This is what you should do,’ and of course I told a nice little story on the radio and it just went viral. This internet is a wonderful thing sometimes.
“That’s the way the whole thing started. And then of course I went on the radio, did a little embellishment. Although it does stem from true events, there’s no way that I know of that James would tell his players to do that. It sounds like the way I portrayed it made it sound like that was a directive, and I don’t believe that’s true.”
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