Detroit Lions OC Anthony Lynn's funny John Madden story; Jack Fox's arm 'a coach's dream'

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Anthony Lynn thought it was a prank.

A few years ago, Lynn was head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers when he got a phone call from someone purporting to be John Madden.

"My phone rang and I answered my phone and I said, ‘Hello,’ and he goes, ‘This is John Madden,'" Lynn recalled Thursday. "And I say, ‘Yeah, this is Barack Obama, who the hell is this?’

"And he said, ‘No, this is John Madden.’ And I was like, ‘Come on man, who is this? I don’t have time for this nonsense.’ And he goes, ‘Coach, this is John Madden, and I’m calling to ask you if you’d like to be on the competition committee.’ And I said, ‘Oh, shit.’"

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Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn is seen during pregame against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Detroit.
Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn is seen during pregame against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Detroit.

Lynn spent the next few minutes apologizing, then 30 or so more in deep conversation with Madden, the Hall of Fame coach, broadcasting icon and video game namesake who died earlier this week at age 85.

Lynn said Madden shared "so much wisdom" in that first phone call, and the two got to know each other after Lynn joined the competition committee's coaches subcommittee, of which Madden was the chair.

The competition committee meets annually to help shape the playing and roster rules that govern the NFL.

Lynn said he was honored to be on the committee, in part because Madden made the request.

"That meant a lot," he said. "And I learned a lot from him every year when we’d meet at the combine and we’d talk about this and that. I could see why the league is as popular as it is when you have guys like coach Madden behind the scenes making the decisions that he’s making.”

'A coach's dream'

Jack Fox threw for 1,900 yards and 18 touchdowns during his senior season of high school, and when Lions special teams coordinator Dave Fipp learned of his punter's background as a quarterback this spring, he immediately began scheming up ways to use it in a game.

Fox completed his second pass attempt of the season in last week's loss to the Atlanta Falcons, throwing a 21-yard strike to gunner KhaDarel Hodge on a fake punt.

Detroit Lions punter Jack Fox (3) throws a pass for a first down during the first half Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Atlanta.
Detroit Lions punter Jack Fox (3) throws a pass for a first down during the first half Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Atlanta.

The Lions are 3-for-3 on fake punts this season. Fox also threw a 17-yard pass to Bobby Price against the Los Angeles Rams, and personal protector C.J. Moore converted a second fake punt in the same game with a 28-yard run.

"It’s a coach's dream to have a punter who can throw the ball because it just puts a lot of stress on the defensive side of the ball on that play," Fipp said. "So I was kind of digging to see if he had done any, and he said he was a high school quarterback. I’m like, 'Geez, and you haven’t thrown anything yet? Did anybody have you or ask you, too?' And he said, yeah, he’d done a little bit of it in the past.'"

Fox was 1-for-1 on pass attempts in college, converting a fake punt against Texas-San Antonio with a 17-yard pass, but Fipp said Fox did not make a favorable first impression when he asked the Lions punter to throw for the first time in the spring.

"I heard some other people say, 'Well, he’s not very good at it.' And so I was like, 'OK, well, we’ll find out for ourselves,'" Fipp said. "And I feel like one of the first throws he threw was like terrible, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh. Throw that out.'

"We just kind of stayed with it and gave him a chance to do it and sure enough, he obviously has got a great arm. He’s throwing half those balls from the far hash all the way outside the numbers or whatever and he puts it on a rope and does a great job with it. He likes doing it, which is obviously great. And he’s been great at it."

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Injury update

Jared Goff missed his second straight practice Thursday with a knee injury, casting further doubt on his status for Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Goff has not practiced since the Lions' Dec. 19 win over the Arizona Cardinals, when he was hurt just before halftime but finished the game.

Tim Boyle will start Sunday if Goff cannot play.

Fullback Jason Cabinda (knee) and cornerback Saivion Smith (illness) also missed practice, while D'Andre Swift was a full participant for the second straight day.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions OC Anthony Lynn has a funny John Madden story