Like a lot of people this summer, Detroit Lions guard Larry Warford started playing Pokemon Go. The location-based augmented reality app caught the world by storm. When it was it released in early July, Warford was living in Tempe, Ariz. He downloaded the app and started to play.
The game involves catching Pokemon characters. Warford, who starred in high school at Madison Central and in college at the University of Kentucky, wrangled a Bulbasaur but missed out on nabbing a treasured Charmander.
Then something happened that made Warford delete the app on the second day after it came out. Something disturbing. Warford described it as a scene right out of the zombie apocalypse.
“I’ll tell you why I stopped playing it,” he said Monday. “I was walking down Mill Avenue in Tempe, Ariz., pretty much on (Arizona State’s) campus. … I was walking down and literally everyone that was on their cell phone walking down that same street was playing Pokemon Go. I was looking at their screens and it was about 30, 40 people walking down Mill (Avenue).
“It was a bunch of people playing it and I was like, ‘I don’t like this.’ I deleted it because I was like, ‘This is some mind-control stuff.’ I don’t like it.”
Warford was on his way to meet friends at a restaurant when he ran into an unnamed Lions teammate on Mill Avenue. He was playing it, too.
“I was like, ‘This is bad, this is bad,’” Warford said. “They were playing it and I was like, ‘Nope!’ And I deleted it right there, right when I got to the restaurant. The funny thing is, the people I was eating with, they were playing it, too.”
Lions Coach Jim Caldwell, 61, said he was aware of Pokemon Go but doesn’t plan to spend time catching a Pikachu, Blastoise or Lapras.
“No,” Caldwell said with an uneasy smile. “I’m certainly not going to get into it in the future, either. I’ve seen all the reports. I have no idea exactly how it works. I haven’t had time to think about that aspect. I’ll leave it up to you.”
In late July, the analytics firm SensorTower estimated the Pokemon Go app had been downloaded 75 million times. But you still won’t catch Warford playing it.
“Yeah, it’s popular,” he said. “But I don’t like it. Something’s not right.”