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 ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) -Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli insists he still believes in his team despite their winless record.
``I believe in the invisible,'' Marinelli said Monday. ``I think you go on and you have faith in what you do. If you don't have it, you're nothing. You're not a man.''
At 0-1 or 0-13, Marinelli remarkably looks and sounds the same as his team marches toward NFL infamy.
``It's just me,'' he explained.
Marinelli's players say the way the third-year head coach handles himself in a composed and determined fashion mirrors how he is behind closed doors.
``He looks you straight in the eye when he's talking because he wants to see your heart and spirit,'' said defensive tackle Chuck Darby, who played for Marinelli for five seasons in Tampa Bay. ``He's a straight-up guy.''
Marinelli deflects non-football questions such as how he spent a long weekend after the Thanksgiving game or how his experience in Vietnam shaped his life and coaching career.
about the extent of the peek he's had into Marinelli's life away from the field.
``He's real private,'' Darby said.
Marinelli, though, has become the face and voice of a franchise that is picking up more national attention as it moves closer to becoming the NFL's first 0-16 team.
He has looked beleaguered recently after games, but bounces back each Monday to answer tough questions about why the team is losing and why his son-in-law, Joe Barry, is still employed as defensive coordinator.
``If you just say, `I give up, we're no good, we can't do this, oh woe is me', and look for pity, that's disgraceful to me,'' Marinelli said. ``I look for every positive I can find on this football team to get them better. I can go all in the negative all day. But that's what everybody else does for me.''
While Marinelli hasn't lost his composure in public, one of his captains seemed to during Sunday's 20-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Center Dominic Raiola, though, says he has no remorse for lashing out toward Lions fans because their heckling went too far.
Raiola wishes he could give some fans his home address.
``I'd do that, but you can't,'' he said. ``Nobody plays with fists. Everybody wants to play with metal.''
Marinelli became a head coach for the first time in 2006 after a 10-year stint as Buccaneers defensive line coach.
d to a 6-2 mark midway through last year. Since then, they have lost 20 of their last 21.
``It's one me,'' he said. ``(When) something's not working, I take it really personal. I don't look for excuses and I don't put it on somebody else's shoulders.''
Marinelli also doesn't try to get into his players' heads.
``I don't try to carry this stuff too deep and lay some guy on the couch and talk to him that way,'' he said. ``I just prefer to go block and tackle.''
Defensive back Kalvin Pearson said the only thing Marinelli does with couches is probably rest on them.
``With Rod, it's all football because it's his life,'' said Pearson, one of several former Bucs lured to Detroit by Marinelli. ``I'm pretty sure he sleeps here.
``If you love football, you love Rod Marinelli.''
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