Do you like Coca Cola or do you like Pepsi? Or to keep it Detroit, do you prefer Lafayette or American? Both get the job done as a cola or a coney island. And one isn’t night and day better than the other. It all comes down to personal preference. For Detroit Lions fans, that’s what it appeared to be regarding Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux, and who between the two they wanted the Lions to grab ––personal preference.
Like the two colas and coney islands, both players will be in the same conversation for a long time.
At least in Detroit, anyway.
Both were available to the Lions with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. The Lions ultimately decided on Hutchinson. It was the right pick in their eyes. Aaron Glenn’s remarks on Hutchinson solidified that. His leadership, his motor, abilities and intangibles led to the Lions taking him. Along with that, Hutchinson’s NEXT GEN athleticism scores were off the charts. Aidan Hutchinson fits the culture the Detroit Lions are trying to create.
But what about the city of Detroit’s culture? How does he fit in with there?
To be clear, it’s a blasphemous question to ask. Like, how dare someone question if Hutchinson fits it. However, when speaking to fans on social media from all backgrounds of life, something stood out to me. It’s something few people want to openly admit.
That’s there are multiple definitions of “Detroit culture” and depending on your background is how one can identify with each player’s fit.
Aidan Hutchinson is the hometown homie.
In Hutchinson’s case, he defines Motown’s “blue-collar” work ethic. He’s a grinder. From whistle to whistle, his players his heart out with the highest-motor of 2022 draftees at his position. And the city of Detroit loves nothing more than a hard-working player. It’s partly why the 2004 “Goin To’ Work” Detroit Pistons roster is still celebrated as such. Hutchinson is about business.
Just look at his introductory presser.
With the Lions rebuilding, some fans wanted a guy like Hutchinson to be the face of the defense for years to come.
Oh yeah, Aidan Hutchinson has one more thing is his favor as a fit for Detroit culture, and that’s that he’s from Metro Detroit. He played high school football at Divine Child. And he played collegiately at Michigan. If any player in the draft (not named Sauce Gardner) knows the pulse of this city and its Metro area, it’s him. He’s lived through the Detroit Lions’ misery since a kid.
He knows what it was like growing up and suffering through the Lions’ 0-16 season. Hutchinson gets it.
Kayvon Thibodeaux is a guy you’d see doing the Blade Dance.
On the flipside, Kayvon Thibodeaux fit Detroit’s culture as well, but differently. Thibodeaux speaks with the tone of an educated Black man from the inner-city. Hell, he even dresses like it. By now, everyone has seen him rocking the iced out chains and the “white sticks” in interviews leading up to Detroit.
And for the unfamiliar, “white sticks” are a nickname for a pair of white Cartier buffalo horn sunglasses. Those glasses, in general, are a Detroit staple in the Black community. “He’s definitely a guy you’d think come from the East or West side of Detroit,” said former U of M star, Braylon Edwards. “He’s the type of cat you’d think would come from 7 Mile & Ryan based on how he dresses and his demeanor. He’d definitely be a Pershing-type cat.”
Kayvon Thibodeaux also plays with a larger-than-life swagger. He’s expressive, he’s loud, and he looks smooth when ripping through an offensive lineman and tackling opponents. And just like a guy from Detroit, he’s talking his fair share of “you know what” while punishing you.
When the 2022 NFL season starts, none of this will matter. It won’t matter what high school and college Hutchinson went to. And it won’t matter how many pairs of Buffs Thibodeaux owns. The only thing that matters is their on-field play.
Nevertheless, it’s worth acknowledging that part of the fanbases’ divide on both players had nothing to their skillset, but how “Detroit” they felt. At least from my conversations, anyway.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.