Jason Fox got incredibly lucky Wednesday.
It was the type of luck that’s almost unheard of, honestly. The Detroit Lions offensive tackle may be a great football player, but he narrowly — and I mean narrowly — escaped defeat in a game of H-O-R-S-E prior to a Lions charity basketball game at Flint Southwestern Academy in Flint.
Prior to the event, Fox, a third-year player of out Miami (Fla.), challenged yours truly to the classic playground game. I agreed, thinking, ‘Hey, it’s pretty cool he wants me to play.’ Although I’m more of a baseball player, and much, much less a basketball player, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
And actually, let me take back that “narrowly” part. Because Fox, a towering 6-foot-7 compared to my modest 5-8, came pretty close to mopping the floor with me. If it weren’t for a lucky behind-the-back layup that he said I “obviously traveled on,” or a couple lucky, comfortable shots from the elbow, I would have been in a world of trouble.
I forgot the shot he won on, some long distance bull, but I ended up with H-O-R-S-E, while he was stuck on H-O-R — despite me knocking down some nice shots from the perimeter. He’s a good sport, though. I can see him being a player that fans will like — no ego, and a very honest, genuine and accessible type of personality.
Part of the Lions/F.O.P charity game’s fun is the fan participation. Players will pick youngsters from the crowd, give them their jersey along with a high-five, take a seat on the bench and watch the little ones go to work. The Lions even help the children with their shots.
Fox, who loves the kids, assisted the youngsters in making free throws, holding them up closer to the rim so they could get an advantage. He signed autographs for all the fans, and even took photos with anyone who asked. He isn’t a bad guy.
Well, actually, he is, kind of.
A young girl was elated after being picked to run the floor with the Lions (Cory Schlesinger, Rob Rubick, Nate Hughes, Kevin Smith and Herman Moore). Who wouldn’t be at that age? She tried her best to get near the basket, weaving through a forest of world-class athletes. She stopped, picked up her dribble, living in the moment that was to be great, and shot. It was on its way, easily a nothing-but-net make… until Fox came charging toward her, slapping the ball down with a vengeance.
It was funny, because as soon as he did that, I looked at him, making a writing motion with my hand, and let him know it didn’t go unnoticed. It was all fun and games. No one was hurt. The girl got another chance to score.
Fox was one of the Lions’ stars in their duel with the Flint F.O.P All-Stars on Wednesday. I told him I’d pad his stat line and maybe even compare him to Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love. He asked, instead, to be compared to Dallas Mavericks standout Dirk Nowitzki. OK. But let’s be real here, Fox. Nowitzki makes his 3-pointers. I’m kidding, big guy. The game ended in a 69-69 tie, with Fox netting a double-double on the night — maybe. I told him I’d say it was a double-double. It may have been more like 11 points, six rebounds and four assists — but who keeps track of stats at a charity game?
Fox, who played basketball in high school (obviously a post guy), actually had a decent stroke for a football player. I encouraged him to dunk like Cliff Avril did last year during the same game. But he didn’t want to. Smith did, though. It wasn’t bad, but I still give the edge to Avril, who hammered down a one-hander like he was in the NBA. Smith’s dunk was off the backboard, a two-handed flush that was pretty nice.
It was great seeing the Lions in Flint. Being from the area, it’s always a treat when pros come out and entertain local residents. Wednesday was my second year attending the event. Last year, because I was at The Flint Journal, I didn’t really get involved or talk much to the players about anything other than football. I was more interested in meeting my deadline.
But Wednesday, since I freelance and have no real deadlines, I saw nothing wrong with mixing a little business with pleasure. It was a charity game, everyone, including myself, was there for a good time.
Fox and I talked about important Lions-related topics, which I’ll write an article about, of course. Here’s a little sneak peak: Fox thinks the Lions will be good. And when I get my rematch, I’ll write about that, too