When the Lions open training camp in 6 days it will mark the return of football for many lifelong fans. However, each season brings the opportunity for new fans to join the fold. I still remember the exact game that hooked me on football and the Detroit Lions even though I was only 6 years old.
December 10, 1990 was a day I will never forget. That was the day my dad took me to my first NFL game. It wasn’t just any old game, it was Monday Night Football and the Lions were hosting Bo Jackson and the Los Angeles Raiders. I’m sure I look back at it as more of a marquee event than I realized at the time as that night taught me a lot. Some things about football and some things about people.
I remember wondering why a chorus of boos came from the crowd when the L.A. Raiders stepped on the field. I didn’t understand why a man in a striped shirt was shooting a gun. I was amused by the grown men that made wigs out of their blue and white pom-pons by sticking the handle up the sides and back of their hats. What 6 year old doesn’t like a game of dress up or downright silliness? The Silverdome was clearly a place for me! (It wouldn’t be until much later that I would learn of the Silverdome’s less than hospitable reputation for acts of violence, probably a good thing)
The Silverdome provided an amazing atmosphere for a big game. Even with the guarantee of a losing season the Lions still had the league’s greatest weekly stage with a spot on Monday Night Football and only the final score would disappoint. The game got off to a quick start with the two teams combining for 35 points in the first quarter. My first quarter of professional football saw two future Hall of Famers score on touchdown runs: Barry Sanders and Marcus Allen. Bo Jackson would later add a touchdown run of 55 yards to add another big time name to the list of big time performers. The see-saw affair ended in a 38-31 loss for the Lions but the opportunity to watch Barry Sanders run for 176 yards in one direction and Bo Jackson take off for 129 yards in the other direction was enough to make me a fan for life.