A Major Loss for Fans of the Detroit Lions

Posted on August 30, 2011 by

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Dave Berri offers the following about Tom Kowalski and the Detroit Lions.

Tom Kowalski you will be missed.

On most mornings I go on-line and check out the latest on the Detroit Lions at MLive.com.  This is certainly part of the routine when something is normally going on with the Lions (i.e. during the draft, training camps, preseason, and regular season).  But it’s also part of my routine during the off-season.

The primary reason MLive.com has become a part of my daily routine is Tom “the Killer” Kowalski.  Kowalski has covered the Detroit Lions as part of the Michigan media since 1982.  For nearly 30 years he has covered the ups (very few of these) and the downs (quite a few of these).  And his reporting is not just part of the season, but also a major part of the off-season.  It is not a stretch to say that most days, Kowalski manages to offer a story that gives Lions fans a much needed information fix.

This morning began like any other.  After a weekend where Kowalski offered numerous stories about the Lions-Patriots game on Saturday night, this morning Kowalski filed a story examining how Matthew Stafford performs in the hurry-up offense.

After reading this story, I took the kids to school, did my morning work-out, and then did my morning bike ride. After an interview with a reporter from the United Arab Emirates (about labor problems in sports), and a brief phone call with a co-author about some research, I went and taught my two Monday classes. At 2pm I returned to the office, and once again, checked in with MLive.com.  Because Kowalski often files more than one story a day, I often go to this website in the afternoon to see if there is any more news on the Lions.

Unfortunately – much to my dismay – there was indeed major news.  Tom Kowalski had passed away.  Kowalski was only 51 years of age.  And as you can guess, his death was an immense surprise.

And as you can guess, it also leaves fans of the Lions very sad.  I am clearly not the only one who has relied on Kowalski for news on the Lions.  As MLive.com reported today, Kowalski’s work on the Lions was not only the most popular stories on the Lions.  And it wasn’t just the most popular reporting at MLive.com on sports.  Kowalski’s work was also the most popular work on any topic reported on by MLive.com.

And Kowalski didn’t just impact fans of the Lions.  MLive.com gathered a number of Twitter responses to this news.  As one can see, these responses came from members of the sports community from around the nation.  In essence, is you wanted a story on the Lions, everyone – a list that includes fans of the Lions and members of the national media – knew you turned to Kowalski.

Just hours before he passed away, Kowalski gave what is now his final radio interview on the Lions.  In this interview he argued the Lions are not quite as good as fans of this team would like to believe after the trouncing of the Patriots on Saturday night.

In classic Kowalski fashion, he let out a deep, bellowing laugh as one of the hosts predicted the Lions would finish the season 12-4. 

“Wow,” Kowalski responded. “You are aware that they start with three of their first four on the road, and two teams in their division were in the NFC Championship game last year?” 

After getting burned a few years back with his now famous 20-wins-in-two-years prediction, Kowalski wasn’t willing to make another bold prognostication.

“Here’s the problem. Everybody sees they went from zero to two, from two to six, so it’s just going to be a natural progression,” Kowalski explained. It doesn’t work that way. I picked them to be 8-8.”

Kowalski reminds the listener how difficult is to win consistently in the NFL.

“It’s difficult to get over the hump,” Kowalski explained.  “A lot of teams get right on the edge, but they can’t get over the hump. For you to think this team is going to go from six wins to 12 wins, or even 11 wins, I think it’s crazy.”

While his expectations were tempered, Kowalski was looking forward to the product the Lions are going to put on the field this season. 

“I think they’re going to be a good team,” Kowalski said. “I think it’s going to be one of the most fun teams to watch in years, because I think they’re going to score a ton of points.”

Despite Kowalski’s words of wisdom, fans of the Lions are still hoping this season is going to be something special.  And we are all very sad to learn that Kowalski – after nearly thirty years of reporting on the Lions – will not be here with us to see this.

– DJ