Fairley reaches out, gives kids a reason to play

DETROIT - Nick Fairley has enjoyed a quiet offseason, focusing his winter on improving his impact on the Lions defensive line.

After enjoying a successful second season in Detroit, Fairley said he spent the winter months in Michigan. He's focused, and thrilled about the team's recent additions to the defensive line.

"I haven't talked to him yet," he said of first-rounder Ziggy Ansah. "But I'm excited."

Fairley is also keeping his competitive juices flowing while planning his second annual community kickball event.

In advance of the game this Sunday at Belle Isle, Fairley visited Bennett Elementary in Detroit. The defensive tackle partnered with Playworks to teach elementary students the importance of recess and playing outside.

It didn't take long for Fairley to quickly fit in, and take off his teacher hat to become the school's newest (really big) classmate.

"I enjoy it, being able to get out of the house, get out in the sun and run around. Getting on the swings, playing four square, it's pretty fun. I like it," he said.

Saying he likes it is an understatement. The day quickly exceeded any of the students' expectations when one fifth grader challenged Fairley to a battle on the swing set.

"He thought he could actually get higher than me. He got there, but then I had to put in a little effort to get there," Fairley laughed.

The 25-year old plays down to the students' level, which always makes his visits to schools a lasting success.

"He's slightly taller and larger than my elementary students," principal Josette Buendia said. "He was quite noticeable out here on the playground."

Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli.

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