My Life As A Lions Fan Is Filled With Pain & Suffering, But This Playoff Run Feels Euphoric | Hookstead


It’s time for me to cleanse my soul of three decades of carnage and suffering that comes with being a Detroit Lions fan.

I know many of you know I’m a Lions fan, but I’m also sure many of you do not. You must be thinking, “How does a guy born and raised in Wisconsin who loves the Badgers and went to UW grow up to be a Lions fan?”

Totally understandable question, and there’s really no crazy story behind it. My mom and her family are from Michigan, and even though they’ve been in Wisconsin for 45+ years, there are still deep ties to the state of Michigan.

I was simply raised in a Detroit Lions atmosphere. My grandfather and godfather/uncle are both massive Lions fans, and when I say massive, I mean it.

Unlike myself and my godfather, my grandfather was alive when the Lions were a dominant force in the 1950s. He got to enjoy the Lions at their peak.

His experience as a Lions fan has been brutal for decades like the rest of us, but unlike him, I have no great memories to fall back on.

A new era is underway with the Detroit Lions. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

It’s been a brutal run as a fan of the Detroit Lions.

You know what I have? Countless examples of heartbreak, pain, hollowness, disappointment, embarrassment, anger, frustration and wanting to throw my Lions gear more than once.

Going 0-16 isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you as a sports fan. The worst thing that can happen to you is the cycle of getting crushed.

It works something like this:

  • Get your hopes up.
  • Get crushed in brutal fashion.
  • Start to believe again.
  • Rinse, wash and repeat.

I grew up in Wisconsin cheering for a team that was a complete and total joke during my childhood, teenage years and despite having talent with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, accomplished nothing. At the same time, the Green Bay Packers were great with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers (and now Jordan Love).

Do you have any idea what it’s like being in high school in the state of Wisconsin when the Lions are 0-16? An extended vacation in Guantanamo Bay would be more relaxing. I dated a woman in college who was a huge Packers fan while the Lions struggled to hit .500. Might have been one of the most frustrating parts about our relationship. These are the sacrifices and demons I’ve battled for 31 years. Message me at, and I can share some more horror stories.

Yet, through all the pain and suffering, I’ve remained a devout Lions fan. I refuse to give up. I refuse to abandon the team I was born into.

I’m such a committed fan I used to work at my old job wearing a Lions helmet at times just to set the tone.

A photo from 2018 of me crushing it while rocking a Lions helmet. (Credit: David Hookstead)

That same helmet now sits right off my desk and I see it at all times. The first sports jersey I ever owned was a Barry Sanders jersey as a very young kid. I was obsessed with it. Even through the darkest of days, I’ve refused to break or leave my squad.

You better hope your sons are born with this kind of grit – or foolishness. I’m honestly not sure which it is.

A look at the same helmet above in its new resting place. (Credit: David Hookstead)

It’s time to cleanse the soul and usher in a new era.

Now, some of you might be asking, “Haven’t the Lions already turned the corner by winning the NFC North and a playoff game?”

Great question. That’s partially accurate, but there will be a lot of people who will argue it’s nothing more than a fluke if Detroit falls to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A win Sunday, and the franchise has been elevated to a spot I truly never dreamed it would be. There was a four-year period in the 2000s where the team went 12-52. The idea of making an NFC Championship game was nothing more than a pipe dream. Me playing in the NBA as a tiny (I’m not actually short but I enjoy the shtick) pasty un-athletic white kid felt more realistic.

Now, the Detroit Lions are four quarters of football away from playing for the chance to win the NFC. I know there’s Lions fans reading this right now, and I know they know exactly what I’m talking about.

The team has come an absurd way under Dan Campbell, but there’s still ground to cover until the sins of the father are fully gone.

Dan Campbell has the Detroit Lions rolling. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

Am I nervous for Sunday? I truly don’t even know how to answer that. After the horrors and NFL gunfights (lost games over beers) I’ve experienced, it’s hard to say I’m nervous for anything. All I know is I’ll be at Dirty Water with the boys, and I’ll have a rapid reaction win or lose. The beers will be flowing, the energy will be high and we’ll take the bullets as they come. It feels like I’ve been preparing for Sunday my whole life. In some ways, I imagine I probably have been.

Now, let’s go out and punch this ticket to the NFC title game. It’s been in the making my entire existence, and I want to see it happen Sunday. Sound off at

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