Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez preview the Detroit Lions vs. Los Angeles Rams game for Sunday at Ford Field.
Carlos Monarrez and Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press

Get to know new Detroit Lions wide receiver Bruce Ellington in five questions:

Q. What was your first pet?

A. “A dog. What was my first dog’s name? Man, that’s crazy. I can’t remember my first one, but I did have one, it was a pit bull and her name was Ruger. Like the gun, Ruger. (She was) feisty. She was tiger-striped, so she was brown with black stripes. She was a pretty dog. And the crazy story, like I said, I used to get in trouble at school and I left my homework at (school) and my mom was like we’re going back to school to get it.

“By this time — me and my brothers was at church one day and when we had this dog, this random dog just ran up to us. It had a tag on it so we called the person, the owner, and he comes after like about three days, and by this time the dog attached to me because I used to be outside just running with it and my other dog. So he said you can have him. This is a grown dog, almost probably about 2 years old.

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“So like I said, I left my homework at school, so my mom, ‘We going back to school. You got to go back to school to get it.’ So my dogs was loose. And I was like, ‘Mom, my dogs, let me tie them up.’ She was like, ‘No, you got to go.’ So I know the dogs, they loved me cause I played with them, like I’m a dog person. I still got dogs to this day. So we left, the dogs ended up following me, so on the way coming back, a Mack truck hit both of my dogs. So they hit both of my dogs and I didn’t talk to my momma for at least a month. I was so mad.

“But I got dogs now. I got a dog when I was in college named Cocky, cause the (South Carolina) mascot, Cocky. It was a pit bull. Yeah, I love dogs.”

Q. You’re commissioner of the NFL for a day, what’s the first thing you change?

A. “The first thing I’d change is guaranteed contracts. For everyone. That’d be the first thing I change.”

Why is that?

A. “Cause of all the stuff that players go through, as far as like football players. We’ve been doing this all our life and at the end of the day, we can go out there and get hurt, end our career, we can’t do nothing else and you’d be done. Can’t do anything, and this is what we’ve been doing all our life. And we’re at the level, we’re making plays out there, we’re doing what we got to do and then the season ends, your career ends and you have nothing.”

Q. What do you do to take care of your mental health?

A. “I just got home and relax with my wife. Sometimes I watch shows with her. Most of the time I’m probably in my playbook cause right now I got to get used to this offense, but most of the time I’m either just chilling at the house, I play video games every now and then, or I’m sleeping. That’s the only thing to do is just relax. I don’t really do too much. Friday nights, me and my wife have date nights. But other than that, I’m just a chill, laid-back guy.”

Q. How many people are on your holiday list, and how do you handle shopping for them in-season? 

A. “It’s mostly just my wife, my mom, my brother and my pops. I got little cousins that I shop for. Mainly my wife does it. We make a list most of the time, or I got a Nike website so most of the time I can just go on there and get some stuff up there for my little cousins and stuff like that. Some shoes or book bag or stuff they can use or need.”

Q. Tell me about your most meaningful tattoos.

A. “Wow. I have a lot. A whole lot. The most meaningful one is the one I got right here (on my right forearm). It (says) faith, and it’s a picture of Jesus Christ on the cross and as you can see around, you can see his face, God’s face, around it. That’s the most meaningful one for me because without that, I wouldn’t be here. My faith is strong. Like I told you, my mom, when I was younger, she always told me to get on my knees and pray to God and ask him what I want and be faithful to him and he’ll be faithful to you.

“So that’s my main one, and then I got my mother on (my left forearm), I got ‘Love’ (written above her picture) and I got her face right here, and I got ‘Only the strong survive’ (written underneath it). Like I said, my mom’s been off drugs 21 years and just the sacrifice she’s been doing, we’ve been doing, I’ve been doing, my brother’s been doing. And like I said, only the strong survive. You got to be strong to survive in this world. And A.I. (Allen Iverson) was my favorite basketball player growing up, so I got ‘only the strong survive for him.’ “

Contact Dave Birkett: Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Download our Lions Xtra app for free on Apple and Android!