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Two Washington Rookies Could Be Big For Detroit Sports Culture

For over the past decade, Detroit sports franchises appeared to be “soft.” They carried a weak mentality. There wasn’t a guy like Bill Laimbeer on the Pistons. Nor was there a Ndamukong Suh-type bad-ass on the Lions. And a man like Darren McCarty was for damn sure didn’t appear to be on the Red Wings. 

However, those days are over. Franchises in the Motor City have begun to add some true “alpha males.” Between the Pistons and the Lions, both franchises are ushering in a new era. And that’s the teams in Detroit accurately representing the city. 

Interestingly enough, the two guys who could lead this charge with the Pistons and Lions played collegiately at Washington.

“Beef Stew” is the embodiment of Detroit sports. 

If you love Detroit sports, then you have to love Isaiah Stewart. And it’s not because of his fitting and cool nickname, “Beef Stew.” No, it’s much more than that. It’s because Stewart lives up to the name. Stewart is the definition of a bully on the court. He doesn’t care if you’re a fellow rookie, a tenured vet, or a two-time MVP.

“Beef Stew” doesn’t back down from anyone on the court. 

Stewart has proved this on several occasions. For starters, who can forget “Beef Stew vs. The Greek Freak.” Reigning two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had some words for the young Stewart after a Jan 6th Bucks-Pistons matchup. Some would think that in this case, the young rookie would back down. He’d show some deference to Antetokounmpo’s veteran status. 

Welp. Not Stewart.

He didn’t only have words with Giannis, but he also had some words for his teammate/brother Thanasis. As the cool kids say, Stewart wanted a piece of “boffum.” 

If that wasn’t a good enough example, take a look at the second Nets-Pistons game after the Nets acquired Blake Griffin. There were several instances that Stewart showed a total disregard for his former vet. One of those included a sick elbow to Griffin’s show. It’s subjective (wink, wink) if that elbow was intentional or not. Regardless, Stewart lived up to one thing he said before the Pistons drafted him. 

No one wants to get physical with him.

In an interview with Hoopshype, Stewart described how he fares competitively against other players he’s faced. 

“I just want it more,” said Stewart. “I want it more than any of the other guys I have ever played against. It shows.”

This is what Detroit sports needs. A guy like this.

“I always showed up. Every time I was on the court, I knew these guys did not want to play against me, and I sensed that every time. They knew I was going to outwork them.”

Stewart’s playing time has been all over the place during his rookie season. Despite that, he’s notched eight double-doubles, including one game where he tallied 15 points and 21 rebounds during a Pistons win over the Thunder in April. He had a performance several days after that, which was just as impressive, registering 18 points and 16 rebounds in a Pistons win over the Cavs. 

“Beef Stew” is proving his worth. In irony, some fans took issue where the Pistons drafted him. Nonetheless, Stewart is now a fan favorite. And now another fellow Huskie joins him in the Motor City, carrying the same intentions. 

Levi Onwuzurike sounds like a man with bad intentions. And that’s great for the Lions. 

“I like f*cking people up,” said Levi Onwuzurike.

Wait, what did he say?

“I like to get off the line and just put my helmet or my hands on an offensive lineman and fuck up an offense’s scheme, pretty much. I like pushing them back 2, 3 yards and just making them feel like sh*t.

For the casual fan, the one who doesn’t keep up with the Lions routinely, this may sound like something a savvy veteran would say. I mean, this is how some of them talk. So it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Well, that is not the case here. No, no, no. These are the words for the Detroit Lions’ 2021 41st draft pick. You know, a guy that has yet to play an NFL snap yet. Nonetheless, Onwuzurike let the media know of his intentions in Detroit on a Zoom call shortly after the Lions selected him. 

“I think the Lions are trying to build some sh*t here, and we got two good-ass parts right here,” said Onwuzurike. It’s safe to surmise the other part he referred to is Penei Sewell, the Lions’ 7th overall pick of the same draft. 

Onwuzrike could be a unique talent in Detroit. Even though Alabama’s Christian Barmore was selected three spots above him, it’s arguable whether he or Onwuzrike was the best defensive lineman in this year’s draft. 

And the Lions drafted one of them.

The Lions defense needed an injection of toughness. It’s something the city of Detroit missed since Ndamukong Suh bolted Detroit for the Miami Dolphins. No Lions’ defensive player in the last two decades put more fear in players than Suh. 

Onwuzrike can change that. 

Although he sat out last season, Onwuzrike was All-Pac-12 in 2019, tallying 45 tackles and two sack in 14 starts. With the Lions’ defense being historically bad last season, expect him to get ample playing time. Noted for his brute strength and disruptiveness, Onwuzrike has a big chance ahead of him. And that’s to be the face of Aaron Glenn’s defense. 

The Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings need to take notice. The Pistons and now Lions get the big picture. They’ve hired aggressive GMs who scouted drafted aggressive players. The final product for both the Pistons and Lions is far from done. Nonetheless, their two rookies from Washington have made one thing clear.

It’s truly Detroit sports vs. Everybody.

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