By: Will Burchfield
Though Eric Ebron insists he isn’t bothered by the boo birds, the constant negativity seems to be wearing on him.
He was booed at Ford Field yet again on Sunday night, even when he wasn’t really at fault. First he failed to come up with a low pass from Matthew Stafford and later he couldn’t reel in a hard throw in the back of the end zone despite laying out. The response from the capacity crowd was predictable: Boooooo!!
Ebron is a frequent target of the fans’ ire, and they were looking for every reason to get on him Sunday night. Afterward, the tight end asked for some leeway.
“I mean, look, listen: 99.9 percent of the people in that audience could not come out here and do that. You know what I’m saying? Yes, those were tough grabs. I get paid to make those grabs, yes, but too damn tough. Damn. I mean, cut a brother some slack. It’s rough, you know?” Ebron told reporters, via Kyle Meinke of MLive.
Ebron, who finished with two catches for 58 yards on six targets in the Lions’ 20-15 loss, also took some heat for appearing to hold up on a pass down the middle of the field early in the game. With a safety converging on him, Ebron shied away from the ball.
“Should have made a play on it, but I told my coach if I dove for that I probably would have been dead,” said Ebron.
Ebron, the Lions’ first-round draft pick in 2014, has been booed more than any player at Ford Field this season, including those on visiting teams. Earlier this month, he said he understood the fans’ frustration because they expect more from him.
Asked on Sunday what he thinks about their hot-and-cold (mostly cold) support, he said, “When blessed with the opportunities, I try to take advantage of it. If the ball’s in my vicinity I’ll catch it. If it’s too high, too low, I’ll make an effort. If I don’t (catch it), I sold out for it. If not, I just have to worry about the next play. But it is what it is. (Shoot), they boo me no matter what, and I’m fine with that.”
It’s been a hugely disappointing season for Ebron through seven games. After setting his sights on the Pro Bowl back in September, he has just 15 catches on 32 targets for 160 yards and one touchdown. He also ranks near the top of the league in drops, a trend throughout his four-year career.
His poor play has landed him on the trade block. NBC’s Mike Florio reported on Sunday that the Lions are “actively shopping” Ebron and will “almost surely” trade him before Tuesday’s deadline.
“Look, I’m going to be happy no matter the decision,” Ebron told reporters, via MLive. “If I’m here, I’ll be happy. If I go anywhere else, I’m going to be happy. That’s just how I roll, man. (Shoot), I’ve been to about 10 schools in one year in New Jersey. I’ll be all right.”
How would Ebron feel if Sunday’s loss to the Steelers was his last game as a Lion?
“I think I left a pretty good mark. If I get the opportunities, then I make plays. If not, it is what it is. I mean, they boo me the hell off the field anyway,” he said.
Ebron, who’s very keyed in to what the media is saying about him, admitted he’s heard the trade rumors of late.
“Whenever someone talks about you, you kind of pay attention to it. But did I give it much thought? No, just trying to worry about this game. But at the end of the day, I can only control what I can. If I’m not here Tuesday, it just is what it is,” said Ebron.
Asked if he thinks he’ll be playing for the Lions in next week’s matchup with the Packers, Ebron said, via Dave Birkett of the Free Press, “I hope so. I hate Green Bay, so I’d love to play (against them).”
He added, “It is what it is. They got ’til Tuesday. This is a business. If they feel like they want to cut ties with me, they’ll cut ties. If they feel like they can continue to use me and my skills and my abilities, then (shoot), let’s do it. We still got a long season. It’s getting short, but it’s still long. It is what it is.”
There are those who believe Ebron would benefit from a fresh start. His time seems to have run out in Detroit. The hometown fans made that painfully clear — yet again — on Sunday night.
“There’s nothing you can do about that (stuff). I just play the game, they can do whatever the hell they want to do. … They can boo me all they want to, I don’t care. Whenever I get the opportunity, I’m going to make the play,” Ebron said. “That’s all I can do.”