Lansing Lions fans prove pride isn’t only about geography or records

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Roger Wolfhard (right) with a friend at a Detroit Lions game this past season. Photo courtesy of Roger Wolfhard.

The Lions still remain one of only four teams who have never made it to the Super Bowl. Their 2023 season was the closest the team had come to a championship win since 1991, falling only three points short of the Super Bowl. 

Despite their playoff loss, their fandom only seemed to grow in Detroit and other Michigan cities like Lansing. A fanatic sports town and college town, Lansing has some of the most passionate sports fans in Michigan. One Michigan State alumna Lindsey Fish has always considered herself a big sports fan, but she has recently become an even bigger Lions fan with this winning season. 

 “I have a nine-year-old son, who is very excited about football, which has helped me get more excited about football, especially over the past couple of years,” said Fish. “I also got married 15 years ago, and my husband was a bigger football fan than I was. So that helped me get more into it.”

Fish has been to about 10 NFL games in her life, and two of them were Lions games during the 2023 season. Her interest has grown more with the Lions recent success and she now tunes in to watch them play every Sunday. Fish and her husband splurged on tickets for the family as Christmas presents before they sold out.

“I am more excited to watch them play than ever before,” Fish said. “I look forward to Sundays more and it makes it more exciting to be a Detroit Lions fan when they are actually winning.” 

Kevin Tatro, another Lions fan from Lansing, has lived in Michigan his entire life and has supported the Lions for the past 30 years.

“Back when I was younger, I would go out to local Lansing sports bars to watch games in the fan atmosphere,” Tatro said. “I think Lansing is a pretty good place to get that fan atmosphere, especially in East Lansing with MSU.” 

During the 2023 playoffs, Tatro recalled going to Meijer before the Lions playoff games and seeing Honolulu blue and silver everywhere he looked. He had never seen such support for the Lions in the city of Lansing. The city had a newfound pride in the team that had struggled for so long. 

“The folks in Lansing care about their teams, and it is a great place to be when there is a game going on,” Tatro said. 

Lansing resident Roger Wolfhard may not have been born and raised in Lansing, but he has become a Lions fan since living in the city. Wolfhard originally grew up in Cleveland where he and his family were big supporters of the Browns. Now, he sports both blue and orange.

“I have considered myself a true Lions fan for the last five years,” Wolfhard said. “Dan Campbell was kind of the final step for me to be like absolutely I am a Lions fan.”

Being a dual fan of two teams that have both never made the Super Bowl is one way Wolfhard’s fandoms overlap. They are also the only two teams in the NFL to go 0-16 in a season. He even went to a game where his two teams faced off in 2016; his ticket only cost $37. 

“They were basically giving tickets away and trying to get people into the stands,” Wolfhard said. “There were a lot of fans wearing bags on their heads at the time.” 

But since the Lions’ playoff run, Wolfhard has sported a blue flag on his trunk that stuck out for everyone to see. He had multiple people stop at stoplights and honk at him and wave their Lions hats. The city of Lansing was filled with Lions fans everywhere he went. 

“I was at a Metallica concert at Ford Field during a road Lions game this year, and a lot of people left their seats and were watching the game on their phones, and I did as well,” Wolfhard said. “The whole section had people with Lions gear watching the game during the concert. The band even commented on it saying that the game was over now so people should go back to their seats.”

Former Adrian College offensive lineman John Rock Jr. knows firsthand what it’s like to go through the grind of a football season. Although he admits that his experience has a lot of differences from the NFL, the Lansing resident knows what it feels like to be on the field with fans cheering him on. 

Rock Jr. also recalled having photos of himself in Lions gear from a very young age. His dad would take him to games when he was very young before Ford Field was even built. 

“Lions games in particular, it’s strange because even when we aren’t doing well, the fanbase is still so electric and fired up,” Rock Jr. said. “I have been to other stadiums for NFL games, and I just feel like there’s nothing that really matches the mentality of Lions fans.”

As the fan base continues to grow, cities like Lansing will continue to show their pride and hope for the future with the best season they have witnessed in over three decades. 


Graph by Chris Warren

Graph by Chris Warren

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