Season 3, Episode 8 - Former WSU football standout and current Detroit Lions LB Anthony Pittman on his career, watching a teammate win a Super Bowl and what the future holds for the Lions and for himself

Former Wayne State University football star Anthony Pittman, now a linebacker for the Detroit Lions, joins the podcast.

Episode Notes

Detroit Lions linebacker and former Wayne State University football star Anthony Pittman talks with host Darrell Dawsey about his career, watching a former teammate win the Super Bowl, and what he sees ahead for the Lions and himself.

About

Anthony Pittman was born Nov. 24, 1995, in Beverly Hills, Michigan. Pittman played at Birmingham Groves High School, where he was all-league and district as a senior. He played college football at Wayne State, where he was a two-year team captain and two-year All-Great Lakes Conference performer. During his college career, Pittman recorded 181 career tackles and saw action on special teams for the Warriors. After going undrafted in the 2019 NFL draft, he signed with the Detroit Lions.


On Dec. 4, 2019, Pittman was released from the Lions' practice squad. He was resigned to the practice squad on Dec. 9, and promoted to the active roster on Dec. 27.


On Sept. 5, 2020, Pittman was waived by the Lions and signed to the practice squad the next day. He was placed on the practice squad/COVID-19 list by the team on Dec. 22, and restored to the practice squad on Jan. 2, 2021. He signed a reserve/future contract on January 5, 2021.

In 2021, Pittman starred on special teams and started one game on defense for Detroit. Pittman racked up 18 tackles, including nine solos, one pass defended and one QB hit.

Additional Resources

Follow Anthony Pittman on Twitter https://twitter.com/__Pittman__

Read how Pittman stepped up his workout routine to secure a new role with the Lions https://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nfl/lions/2021/08/02/wayne-state-product-anthony-pittman-transforms-body-role-under-new-detroit-lions-staff/5458422001/

Watch Pittman's "Under the Helmet" video segment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G_8L6pFg68

Watch Pittman's Wayne State University football highlights https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M727WRzHzM

Transcript

Announcer:

Welcome to Today@Wayne, a podcast that engages and informs the Wayne State University campus community. With news, announcements, information and current events discussions relevant to the university's goals and mission, Today@Wayne serves as the perfect forum for our campus to begin a conversation or keep one going. Thanks for joining us.

Darrell Dawsey:

Welcome to the Today@Wayne Podcast. I'm Darrell Dawsey. Wayne State football may not be the best-known program in the country, but the Warriors nonetheless have an impressive track record when it comes to putting players in the NFL. From Tom Beard or Paul Butcher to Joique Bell, Warriors have been earning spots on NFL rosters for decades. This past NFL season was no different, as former Wayne State Warrior star linebacker Anthony Pittman turned in a solid performance this season for the Detroit Lions. Undrafted after leaving Wayne State in 2019, the former Birmingham Groves High School standout spent time on the Lions' practice squad before being signed to the active roster in December 2019.

This past season, Pittman made his presence felt in a much bigger way. He starred on special teams and even earned a starting roster spot. The six-foot 3, 240-pound Pittman wrapped up 18 tackles, including nine solos, one pass defended, and one QB hit. Needless to say, Anthony Pittman has come a long way during his short NFL career, and he's done the Warriors program proud. And now, he's here with us on the Today@Wayne Podcast to talk about his career, the Lions and what lies ahead. Welcome, Anthony.

Anthony Pittman:

Thank you, thank you. Appreciate you having me.

Darrell Dawsey:

Thanks for being with us. Appreciate you taking the time. So, let's just get into it. At the beginning of the season, you were considered by some people to be a long shot to make the final roster. Were you ever worried that you wouldn't make the team?

Anthony Pittman:

I had no doubts that I would make the team, whether with Detroit or with another team. My mindset going into training camp was [that] I was on a practice squad the previous two years and I was just hungry.

Darrell Dawsey:

Yeah.

Anthony Pittman:

Just all offseason, throughout training, throughout camp, I was just hungry. Or, you could almost say desperate. Like, 'I got to make this team, I got to make this 53-man roster.' And that was my mindset. I was like, 'There's no other option.' And that mindset, combined with the work I put in in the offseason, I just had this is confidence going into camp where there was no other option.

Darrell Dawsey:

So, it absolutely paid off for you. You had a strong season. The Lions struggled a little bit, of course. The team had a rough year, finishing 3-13-1. How tough was it for you to endure the losing, and what allowed you and your teammates to continue to play so hard? Because, you guys still play hard throughout the year. So, despite all the losing, what was it that allowed you to play so hard? And, how tough was it just to deal with that?

Anthony Pittman:

Yeah. I mean, being from Detroit, I want be part of the resurgence of the alliance, us being a great team for the city. So the losses, you could say they hit extra hard for me, just being from the city.

Darrell Dawsey:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Anthony Pittman:

But, like you said, we play hard and we still had hope for the week after.

Darrell Dawsey:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Anthony Pittman:

And, I think that just comes from the group of guys that we have and the new coaching staff, Dan Campbell's ideologies, his mindset. And, we just embraced that. The grit, the dog, the hunger, we had a young group, we were hungry. So, like I always say, I feel like this is the best losing team I've ever been a part of.

Darrell Dawsey:

Right.

Anthony Pittman:

Just because the mindset was so... It was just so winning, but we just couldn't get the job done.

Darrell Dawsey:

Yeah. You had a couple of just bad breaks, man.

Anthony Pittman:

Yeah.

Darrell Dawsey:

Sometimes stuff doesn't always bounce your way, but you guys did endure and played through it. And, I think that was a great thing. Now, you had a few... You had your own little setback in December: You were placed in the NFL COVID protocol program.

Anthony Pittman:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Darrell Dawsey:

Tell us a little bit about that. Were you afraid, and what was the toughest part for you about having to go through that?

Anthony Pittman:

Well, I think, that was last year. That was last year.

Darrell Dawsey:

Okay. Last year.

Anthony Pittman:

Yeah. But, going back to that year, I was placed on COVID for the second to last week of the season. And I was on practice squad, but there was a chance for me to play, possibly, and get that one credited game that I needed, or even just get some film out there. So being on COVID IR for the last two weeks of the season was tough because it's like, 'this is how my season is ending.'

Darrell Dawsey:

Yeah.

Anthony Pittman:

I got a chance to play. I got a chance to just run down there on kickoff or do something, something I've been waiting for two years, and get that COVID, so.

Darrell Dawsey:

Yeah. That's was tough, but you bounced back well. Now, let's talk a little bit about a former teammate of yours. A lot has been made of the fact that Matthew Stafford won a Super Bowl this year with the Los Angeles Rams, right after being traded from the Detroit Lions. Where the Lions [finished the season] 3,13 and 1, Stafford wins a Super Bowl. That's invited, I guess, a lot of criticism. But before we jump into that, how did you feel, just watching your boy go out there and win the big game?

Anthony Pittman:

Well, I felt like he made it a little too close for me. I was getting a little nervous throughout the game, toward the end. But, he does how he does with the comebacks, and he got the job done.

Darrell Dawsey:

So, I take it you were rooting for him.

Anthony Pittman:

I was rooting for him.

Darrell Dawsey:

Okay.

Anthony Pittman:

I'm a big fan of Stafford, man. Even when he was here, just watching him every day. Studying how he competes, how he prepares, man, coming in at six in the morning, man I'm just... And then, playing against him this year. We played him, I think, week four or five.

Darrell Dawsey:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Anthony Pittman:

And, I'm just like, 'Man. He still got it, man. He a bad man.'

Darrell Dawsey:

Still a problem, huh? And well, what do you say to people who view Stafford's success as an indictment of the Lions franchise? We had this guy for 10 years, never want to play off game with him. He goes away, first season he's off our team, he wins a Super Bowl. A lot of people have said, 'It's an indictment of Lions franchise.' What do you say to people who say that?

Anthony Pittman:

Hmm. Well, I just feel like we may not have had certain pieces to complete the job. Maybe we had, maybe the receivers or offenses click in, but defense couldn't... Or, we have injuries. It's a lot of factors that goes into that.

Darrell Dawsey:

Okay.

Anthony Pittman:

But, I'm happy for him, obviously. He was able to get the job done in L.A. But, I feel like we can get the same thing done.

Darrell Dawsey:

Okay. I take it you are expecting a much better year next season.

Anthony Pittman:

Oh yeah, for sure.

Darrell Dawsey:

All right. Cool. All right, enough about the Lions. Let's talk a little bit about your life before the NFL. You're local product. You played at Birmingham Groves High School. You were recruited by Wayne State University among other places. What made you choose Wayne State?

Anthony Pittman:

Okay. I like this question because I always say choosing Wayne State was the best decision I made in my life. Because I didn't want to go to Wayne State, because it was so close to home. I've seen the campus. I'm like, 'Eh, I want to go somewhere far.' And I didn't want to do the recruiting visit. My mom convinced me to do it. She said, 'Go to Wayne State, just do the recruit visit.' I said, 'All right, whatever.' Did the recruiting visit, met with the coaches. I was met some players, hung out.

I'm like, 'Man, I kind of like it here. I really enjoy being the [inaudible 00:08:17] like Wayne State.' And I was like, 'I can see myself being here.' And, it was going around Christmas, 2013 or 14. And, I was being hesitant about committing. I'm like, 'Ah, I want to do more visits' And my mom was just like, 'You better commit to Wayne State before they pull the offer.' And I remember very clear, I called coach Winters, and I said, 'I'm ready to be a Warrior.' And it's the best decision I ever made.

Darrell Dawsey:

Moms know best, right?

Anthony Pittman:

For sure.

Darrell Dawsey:

Now, tell me a little bit about your time here at Wayne State. What are some of your best memories from here? From your time on the team, as a student at the university?

Anthony Pittman:

Let's see. Let's see, the best year was probably 2016. I was a red-shirt sophomore. We had a great team with dominating teams, left and right. Toward the end of the year, we couldn't get it done, though. Had some tough losses. But that was probably my favorite year because, just the brotherhood we had in the locker room. We were family, we hung out at the apartment, every hour of the day. It was just a great year. And then for me-

Darrell Dawsey:

You got a full college experience, even being on an urban campus is that it?

Anthony Pittman:

That was a full college experience, hanging with the boys, going to class. We did the road trip, staying in the hotel. Man, it was a great year. And then for me on the football side, it was great because, that really sprung my career. I came off of a knee injury, so, I was a little[CW1]  [late] going into that year. The coach was a little hesitant on me, linebacker coach. So, I was able to work my way up to getting a few starts that year and really making my name known in the glee act.

Darrell Dawsey:

Okay.

Anthony Pittman:

So, it was a big year.

Darrell Dawsey:

Now, you're proud local product. You spent your college career and your pro career playing in front of fans in metro Detroit area. Is this important to you and why?

Anthony Pittman:

It's very important. Just because I feel like I can feel the city. I understand, I've been here. I rolled through the streets, I've been on the campus. I've been downtown. I've lived in the city, I've lived in Birmingham. I've been all around metro Detroit. So, I know the area real well. And I just feel I'm just comfortable here. And, I love the people. I understand the mentality that we have and the hunger that we have for the Lions to be great. And man, if I'm a part of that, man, that's just going to be something special for real.

Darrell Dawsey:

I tell people, people don't understand Detroit. I say, 'I've seen the Pistons win. I'm old enough to [have[ seen the Tigers win. I remember back in '84; I've seen the Red Wings win.' I tell people, I say, 'You have no idea what it would be like in this town if the Lions won the Super Bowl, man.' This is a football town. This is a football town. So we rooting for you, bro, bring it home.

Anthony Pittman:

Yes, sir.

Darrell Dawsey:

Now, you are an exclusive rights free agent.

Anthony Pittman:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Darrell Dawsey:

If, I understand your circumstances correctly.

Anthony Pittman:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Darrell Dawsey:

That means that the Lions get to make the first offer to you. Right?

Anthony Pittman:

Yeah.

Darrell Dawsey:

To keep on board. I'm assuming you want to stay here, but I'm going to just ask you outright. Do you have any desire to perhaps play somewhere else after playing your entire career in Michigan?

Anthony Pittman:

Nope.

Darrell Dawsey:

Okay. Okay.

Anthony Pittman:

Nope.

Darrell Dawsey:

All right, all right. Well, listen, I know you're busy, so I'm going to wrap it up here. But, I do want give you the opportunity to offer up anything else you might want to add. Is there something else that you might want to say? Let me ask you, what do you say? The Warriors, the football team's going through some tough years last couple years. Just as a pro player, what's your advice, what do you tell those guys to keep their spirits up?

Anthony Pittman:

I'd say, you just got to trust the process. Take it day by day. Work, work out, go to class, stay in playbooks, stretch. Because as we all see, a season can turn around in an instant. You got the Cincinnati Bengals, who were not so good last year, now they were in the Super Bowl.

Darrell Dawsey:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Anthony Pittman:

Or even my time at Wayne State, in 2014 and 2015, we weren't that great. And then 2016, we had a great year. So, I just say, you never out until it's over. So, it can change in an instant. So, stick with it.

Darrell Dawsey:

I think those are great words for life, too.

Anthony Pittman:

Oh yeah.

Darrell Dawsey:

[inaudible 00:13:25] words for life. Well, listen Anthony, I really appreciate you taking the time to join us. We don't want to hold you up too much longer. But, we do want say thank you and let you know that we are proud of you here at Wayne State, and we wish you absolutely all the very best. Okay.

Anthony Pittman:

I pretty appreciate that, man.

Darrell Dawsey:

All right, man. Well, thank you. This is Darrell Dawsey. This has been the Today@Wayne Podcast.

Announcer:

Thanks for listening to Today@Wayne. We'd love to hear from you, our campus community, about other podcast ideas and topics. What compelling things are you doing to spread the good word about living, learning, working, and playing like a Warrior? Let us know by visiting today@Wayne.edu.

 

 

 

Subscribe to Today@Wayne

Direct to your inbox 3 times a week