Jim Caldwell was a few months into his first season as Lions coach when he asked safety Don Carey for an impromptu meeting in the defensive backs room.

Caldwell, in the process of getting to know his new players at the time, heard about Carey’s interest in real estate, and as a mini mogul himself wanted to see if he could help.

"We go into the DB room and he asks me for my business plan, and I start spitting it out to him proudly and he has a little smile on his face and tells me I’m doing it the wrong way," Carey recalled this week. "Not that there was anything wrong with what I was doing, but he just knew a better way. So we spend about 45 minutes to an hour on the dry-erase board going over the mechanics of real estate, from his perspective."

Carey tweaked his plan of buying, selling and owning homes to conform to the blueprint Caldwell, an avid real estate investor, shared with him that day. Now, three and a half years later, Carey said he’s worked on 20 or so properties using Caldwell’s method with great success.

"It’s been very lucrative," he said.

For Carey and many other Lions, Caldwell has been more than just a coach these past four seasons.

Tight end Eric Ebron said Caldwell was one of the first people he called when he found out he was going to become a first-time father earlier this year.

Defensive end Dwight Freeney still smiles at the thought of a young Caldwell sitting in his living room trying to recruit him out of high school — and the banter they share about that experience to this day.