Five years ago, Jim Schwartz, then a head coach, and linebacker Stephen Tulloch were in Detroit, doing their best to help the Lions come out on top week in and week out. Now in 2016, they're both Eagles returning to their previous city and hoping to leave Sunday's game at Ford Field with a Philadelphia victory in hand.
Neither the coach nor player left the Lions under the best of circumstances. Schwartz was relieved of his coaching duties following the 2013 season and Tulloch was released by the team in July.
But, they don't have any hard feelings toward the organization. In fact, the exact opposite couldn't be truer.
"As far as the Lions, I think you guys would probably be surprised how much I root for the Lions. As long as it's not in direct conflict with the Eagles, I want those guys to win every week," Schwartz said. "I've got too many, too much blood and sweat in that building and there are a lot of guys there that mean an awful lot to me. Start with (Matthew) Stafford and (Brandon) Pettigrew and (DeAndre) Levy. I mean, those guys were my first draft class. I want those guys to succeed.
"I don't want them to succeed this Sunday. I'm going to do my very best to try to beat them, but I think everybody would be surprised how much you have relationships that just don't go away when you leave or a player leaves. Those guys have had my back when I coached there and I've had their backs and I'm sure that will continue. Not this Sunday, though."
This weekend's game won't mark Schwartz's first trip back to Detroit. As the defensive coordinator of the Bills in 2014, he returned to Ford Field and helped Buffalo to a dramatic win in which the team overcame a 14-point deficit and kicked a last-second 58-yard field goal to seal the deal.
Schwartz was carried off the field by the Bills' defense with his previous Lions players and coaches looking on. Things may not be as dramatic during the coach's return this time around, but Schwartz still wants the same result from his new players – a win.
"I think that that was probably a little bit different in that I probably had about 10 coaches that worked for me that were still on the staff. Most of the team had played for me. Sure that's going to be emotional. You're not a human being if you're not," Schwartz said. "You're going to do everything you can to win every game. Every game is a big game, but I think I have one coach left still on the staff. I was trying to count them up. I think I have maybe a dozen or 13 players that were there. This league moves fast, man. This league moves fast."
The fast-paced nature of the NFL worked in favor of Tulloch though, who finds himself reunited with the defensive coordinator just over three months after his release from the Lions.
Sunday's return is sure to be emotional for the linebacker. After five seasons with the Lions, Detroit grew to be his "second home." However, Tulloch is happy to have landed in Philadelphia with the Eagles and is ready to take on his former team.
"I felt like my career would end in Detroit and I'd be able to play my last year there, but all players that play a long time in this league, we all hope to end our careers where we started and that's unfortunate I wasn't able to," Tulloch said. "But, I'm glad to have the opportunity to come to Philly. The fans welcomed me here, the organization welcomed me here and things are going good."