The Detroit Lions may be facing the Buffalo Bills this Thursday, but before heading to Buffalo, New York, fans welcomed new head coach Jim Caldwell and the entire Lions team to Ford Field, as the fans wished them luck for the upcoming season at the 18th annual Detroit Lions Kickoff Luncheon hosted by the Detroit Economic Club.
I must admit that this year’s luncheon was truly a festive environment for the various fans who purchased tickets to the event. To start, the guests were served a delicious meal. However, what made the meal even more special was the fact that they had an extra table companion, that extra companion being a Lions’ player or coach who was considered to be the 11th person at the table.
After lunch, Lions play-by-play announcer Dan Miller, who was the masters of ceremonies of the luncheon, interviewed team president Tom Lewand, coach Jim Caldwell along with some of the Lions players, giving the guests a chance to ask questions and hear from the their favorite players and coaches.
While I admit it was great to hear from Lewand and coach Caldwell and even some of the other players like quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and safety James Ihedigbo, I think it’s safe to say that wide receiver Golden Tate brought the passion to the Lions kickoff luncheon.
Since signing with the Lions, many have wondered why Tate chose the Lions considering he had the chance to go anywhere and be successful. Well during his interview with Miller he addressed his decision to come to Detroit, stating that he had no regrets.
“I finally see myself being the player I envisioned myself being.” Tate said on joining the Lions. “[Detroit] It’s not as bad as people say it is.”
Unlike the Lions chaplain Dave Wilson who started off the kickoff luncheon with prayer for a Superbowl win, Tate said that the Lions will and need to take this season day-by-day, as they continue to develop a championship football mentality.
“The plan here is to win the NFC North. Once we win the NFC North, then we’ll worry about everything else.” Tate speaking on the goals of the Lions this season. “I think we need to develop the mentality that we want to play championship football…You have to show up to get better…You either get better or worse. We need to get to the point that we expect to win games, that we expect to beat the Green Bay Packers.”
“The only team that can beat us, is us. It’s up us. We either going to beat ourselves or the other team.”
Now you make look at those statements above and say that those comments are typical talk for a rising star team like the Lions but I am here to tell you that Tate ‘s statements mean more than what you think. During the kickoff luncheon, Tate spoke with so much passion and conviction, that he made it clear to anyone and everyone there, that he is definitely one of the main leaders of the team. Then on top of that, he also made it clear that while he believes in this team and his role on this team, he also understands that as team, they control their fate and that a championship mentality must be developed by the team for them to truly be successful.
While I would like to say I am surprised by Tate’s positive and passionate behavior, I honestly can’t say that I am. From the moment the Lions signed him, I said the Lions had gained a true gem, mainly because at 25 years old, Tate is a valuable asset to the Lions on and off the field.
On the field, he provides great hands, speed and athleticism, and the great thing about Tate, is the fact that he can make plays anywhere on the field. As a small receiver, he has great speed and agility and it’s because of those skills that he has the ability to make plays in the open field after the catch. Then due to his great athleticism and overall great hands, Tate also has the ability to make plays in the red-zone or down the field.
Overall, the acquisition of Tate as a whole makes it harder for defenses to defend the Lions in the passing game because both Johnson and Tate have play-making ability, so defenses will be force to choose who they want to focus on and double team. We have already seen some of those bright moments during preseason play and as the regular season gets closer, I have no doubt that we will see plenty more of those moments.
Beyond his great play on the field, what I like most about Tate is the fact that he is no stranger to adversity and working for his success, which makes him a great leader for the Lions offense and for the team as whole.
When it comes to facing adversity, many forget that Tate struggled early in his career with the Seahawks, starting just five games through his first two professional seasons, but throughout it all, he continued to work hard and by 2012, he had become the highly touted player that he was considered to be during his college career at Notre Dame. By now, we all know that the Lions are no strangers to adversity, but to have a leader like Tate who has faced it and overcome it on every level possible, is huge for the Lions.
If you ask me, I think Tate will prove to be the leader that this Lions offense has been looking for, not to mention, he will also prove to be play-maker, than can and will help the Lions achieve greatness like he did with Seattle.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
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