ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Winning back fans after an 0-16 season isn’t easy, but you have to give the Lions credit for trying.
They’ve started a new ritual they hope will put them closer to younger people –- and their families. The first 10 or 20 children in line for practice are chosen as helmet-carriers, which is the opportunity to walk with a player to the practice field while carrying his helmet.
Most of the carriers aren’t any older than about 13 or 14. However, with a quarterback as young as 21-year-old rookie Matthew Stafford on the team, there can be awkward moments.
“Actually, the first guy that carried out my helmet was like 20 years old,” Stafford said with a smile. “I said, ‘I’m only a year older than you … you don’t have to carry my helmet.’ But he was cool. And it’s fun. You get a chance to hang out with these kids and you get a chance to see the impact that you can have on them. They’re star struck in a lot of cases and just having a great time walking out onto a practice field. And we sign stuff for them and then send them on their way and let them watch practice.”
– Vic Carucci