Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Glover Quin pulled up the sleeve on his left wrist a little bit, just enough to take a peek at the watch he was wearing. He checked the time. The Detroit Lions safety estimated he had been in Michigan with his teammates for about 27 hours at that point.
And he was using that time to learn as much as he could after being away from the team for most of the rest of offseason workouts.
“When I’m here, I’m here, you know?” Quin said. “When I’m here, I’m at work; I try to be at work. What’s going on at home, I deal with it whenever I leave here, so when I go back to the hotel, I deal with it. But when I’m at work, I’m at work.”
He arrived in Michigan on Monday to take part in the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp this week. That Quin hadn’t been at work throughout the rest of the offseason was a change for the 32-year-old. Throughout his career to this point, Quin had been a regular attendee in the offseason program.
After being a fourth-round pick in 2009, he worked his way into being a starter in Houston. Then he came to Detroit as a free agent in 2013 and has been one of the team’s core defensive players since. Made a Pro Bowl in 2014. Hasn’t missed a game since the 2009 season. Turned into the team’s emotional defensive leader over the past few seasons, signing two more contracts with the Lions along the way, including a two-year extension last year that will carry through the 2019 season.
Quin said Tuesday he was not thinking about retirement, but he also admitted that when it’s time for him to leave football, he’ll know when that is.
“Went from a fourth-round draft pick to 10 years in the NFL, started 132 straight games, and I’ve done things that I wouldn’t have even imagined I would have been able to do just coming out,” Quin said. “So when it’s time for me to walk away, I will peacefully and gracefully bow out and let the young guys have it.”
But this year was a first for him, spending most of the offseason away from his team. He made this decision after realizing how short the offseason really was. Quin knew the work he had to do to remain among the top safeties in the league. He also felt he could get more out of his own workouts than standing around working out and watching in Allen Park. Instead, he could spend time with his family in Houston, get his workouts in and also get the time with his family.
“The thing that was tough for me was the fact that when I was coming into the offseason program, it was kind of like our season started in the end of April,” Quin said. “So it was like come April, basically you’re kind of like in-season and then you get a little break and you’re really in-season. I think I need to devote a little more.
“If you come home in January and you got to go back in April, I mean, it takes you kind of a few weeks to a month to kind of get settled in, get into the routine, but then all of a sudden you got to start back training to get ready to come back and it’s on your mind. OK, it’s February and once March gets here the new league year starts, it’s time to be thinking about going back … and so I was just like, I needed some more time and some stuff I had to deal with.”
Quin wouldn’t get into much detail about what he needed to deal with other than spending time with his family. His time away did allow him to think about his future, though, and look at football differently than he had in the past.
He hadn’t been away from the game like this before — at least not since his time as a junior college player in Mississippi. Since then he has played at New Mexico, in Houston and Detroit. He’s made millions of dollars, invested smartly and even started coaching his son’s Little League baseball team last year.
Now he’s back, and on Tuesday he slid right into his old spot in the back line of the Lions’ defense, the unit’s smartest player and the defense’s only player over 30 appearing once again to be preparing for another season in the NFL.
“It was more of a, ‘Man, I kind of miss being around the guys, but more of me, just take a step back and just kind of separate myself,'” Quin said. “And give myself fully to my wife, to my kids, and enjoy that time. But understand that I still have a job I got to do so got to make time for that as well, and that was it.”