Punter of the Week is a weekly series here on UKPigskin all about you, the fans.
Whether it’s a particular franchise, player or just your general love for the NFL, if you’re passionate then we want you to get involved and share your story.
In this latest edition, Andrew Irving, a 25-year-old from Bromsgrove in England tells us about his long suffering love of the Detroit Lions but explains why he wouldn’t have it any different.
Why Detroit Lions?
I’m a long suffering Detroit Lions fan through and through.
I first fell in love with this team when I visited the states roughly around the same time as the infamous 0-16 season.
I have never cheered for the ‘winniest’ teams (cough cough the Patriots) and I felt like the Lions is a decent place to begin following the NFL.
A few years later, I went to my first international series game at Wembley stadium and who was playing? None other than the Detroit Lions (Lions vs Chiefs 2015). I thought it was a touch of fate and I’ve never looked back since.
Though it was a miserable 45-10 loss to the Chiefs I knew the Lions were going to be my team for good. I’ve been joyously suffering ever since.
Who is your current favourite player within the NFL?
My favourite player without question is Matthew Stafford. Dude is a leader, top ten talent and the face of the franchise.
The Detroit Lions owe him more than the couple of play-off appearances he has got so far in his career and I just hope he doesn’t end up cutting his career short like Megatron and Sanders who were head and shoulders above the team at the time.
Stafford doesn’t do social media or anything flashy outside of the game, he just gets on with it and I love that about him.
He may not be the most agile runner in the game but my god can he ping a 40+ yard deep ball with ease.
What are your first memories of the NFL?
One of my first memories was a painful loss to the Green Bay Packers, a loss that saw none other than a last second Hail Mary at Ford Field in 2015 now known as the ‘Miracle in Motown’. It still hurts.
Have you been able to form a relationship with other Lions’ fans or other NFL fans in general through social media?
One of the great things about being a Lions fan is definitely the fans I’ve met in person and also on social media. We’ll always be the eternal optimists during the games and after.
Last season, I visited Detroit and Ford Field on game day (again vs the to-be Super Bowl champs, Kansas City) with my stepdad who had chosen the Chiefs as his team by then.
We were surrounded by Lions fans and all of them were shocked and in awe that a UK fan had made the long flight to see his beloved team.
Everyone was super friendly and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience from the whole trip, so I owe a big thank you to my Lions family!
Do you feel as though your fandom for the NFL is unique to other sports?
Oh for sure! I’m also a big Wolves fan (finally seeing some success there at least) and my fandom is definitely more intense with the NFL.
I think the reason for that is because one moment in a game can change the whole outcome of the season. With only 17 weeks of regular season games, every snap counts.
As with soccer, the odd loss here or the odd draw there usually isn’t end of the world. Each moment in an NFL game has a lot more riding on it so I think that’s why my fandom for the Lions is more intense that other sports.
Don’t get me wrong, limbs everywhere if England or Wolves win something.
What do you expect from your team this coming season?
The Lions head coach, Matt Patrica and the Rest of the front office are definitely on the hot seat compared to other organisations.
Coming from the New England Patriots they were meant to come over to Detroit and create a ‘winning culture’ and as of yet we’ve not really seen any progression, even though I do believe this season will tell a different story (famous last words).
If they aren’t at least competitive in a tough NFC North division then Patricia and the GM Bob Quinn are most likely on their way out. I do have a feeling they could surprise a few this season though, maybe that’s just my fandom talking.
Our franchise QB Matthew Stafford was playing at an extremely high level before his season was cut short with a broken back.
Also, what wide-receiver had the most touchdowns last season? Kenny Golladay! (Most likely wasn’t your first answer I’m sure).
So, I expect to see a high scoring offense and hopefully the torrid defence from last year will be much improved with the addition of star cornerback, Jeff Okudah.
Realistically though, I think we can hope for 7 wins especially being in such a tough division.
Finally… If you could add one NFL player past or present to your current team, who would it be and why?
Lions have needed to give Stafford a legit run game for so long and have yet to really do so, so I’m bringing back Barry Sanders all day!
Thank you once again to Andrew for his contribution. You can find him on Twitter: @andrewjirving