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OPINION: Despite Struggles Detroit is Still a Football Town


by Dan Cash--WKZO.COM Sports--

This morning a co-worker argued with me that Detroit is and always will be a baseball town.  I immediately refuted the statement arguing that Detroit is and always will be a football town.  Need proof?

The Detroit Lions went 0-16 last season, fired their entire coaching staff, traded one of their star Wide Receivers and took Louis Delmas instead of the favored Rey Maualuga.  Even after all of that, somehow Lions fans in a struggling economy found it in their hearts to sell out Ford Field for the home opener against Minnesota. 

This of course has been the problem in Detroit sports for some time.  I often wish the town was more of a baseball town than a football town.  If that was the case the franchise would need to make drastic changes in order to survive but somehow they keep selling tickets. 

Many a radio host have argued that fans should stop going in an effort to support their team.  “If they don’t sell tickets, they will be forced to make changes.”  On the other hand I have always argued that fans shouldn’t have to suffer because of consistent mistakes made by ownership.

Even if the Lions are terrible, once July rolls around I am about ready for some Detroit Lions football and I would imagine I am not the only one.

This is the reason Detroit is and always will be a football town.  The Tigers have had success…winning the World Series in 1984 and going to the playoffs in 1987 and 2006.  Sure they have had their struggles but we have already been through the rebirth of the Tigers. 

What Michigan is searching desperately for now is the “birth” not “rebirth” of the Lions.  To illustrate the “football town” point one only needs to think about what would happen if the Lions even made it TO the Super Bowl. 

The state of Michigan would most likely erupt out of economic recession, the budget would balance itself and Democrats and Republicans would get along.  I think we can all agree that all of those things would instantly occur if the Lions made a Super Bowl. 

I was riding with a Minnesota Vikings fan to cover the home opener 2 Sundays ago and he remarked that he would much rather never have made a Super Bowl than lose 4 like “his Vikings” have done.

It is comments like these that prove that no one understands the pain of the Detroit Lions fan.  Green Bay Packers fans went through a struggle in the 70’s and 80’s, the Bears have gone up and down, the Bengals have struggled off and on, yet the Lions have persevered and been terrible for the last 50 years.

Yet, even with the Lions struggles…fans still buy gear, fans still come to games and most importantly they still watch the commercials. 

Detroit is a football town.  If the Lions won the Super Bowl it would be ten times bigger than any other Detroit sport winning.  The Wolverines won in 1997, the Red Wings won in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008, the Pistons won in 2004 and yet none could compare to what would happen if the Lions won the Super Bowl.

The parade would have to be extended across the state of Michigan.  20 days of 2MPH traffic on I-94 would be the best solution.  It would be THAT BIG. 

So if someone ever asks why fans boo when the Lions do poorly or if Detroit is a football town? 

You know what to say.

Dan Cash covers sports for WKZO.COM.  Contact Dan at dan.cash@mwcradio.com.