A Short Tribute to Tom Kowalski


Tom Kowalski died today. I didn’t know the man. Not personally, anyway. But news of his death this morning stunned me and I had to fight back tears while sitting in front of my work computer.

Tom was the Detroit Lions beat writer for Booth Newspapers and MLive.com. During the football season, and during the never-ending football off-season, Tom covered the Lions like no one else. He was the elder statesman in the press room, having been in and out of the NFL locker rooms since 1982. He wrote about everything to do with the Lions, from front office moves and politics, to play-by-play analysis of pre-season games and individual practices. For the fans who follow the Lions, no one else even came close to the volume of information Kowalski delivered on a day to day basis, and even then, the fans wanted more.

Kowalski understood the power of the internet and social media, and bonded with Lions fans like me on live chats, Twitter and in the comments of every article he wrote for MLive. I live all the way across the country, and yet Tom kept my attention. During the long, horrible years where most Lions fans wanted to wear bags over our heads, or bail on the team entirely, Kowalski gave us insight and a little hope that someday, the fate of our team would improve. And if it didn’t look like it was going to get any better, he said that too, to temper our disappointment on game day. MLive is the first site I go to every day, and it’s because of Tom Kowalski’s writing. He was the 8th person I ever followed on Twitter.

Yesterday afternoon, I sent Tom a tweet regarding the previous night’s Lion’s game:

“Cunningham concerned about teams running screens to combat upfield push? Looked vulnerable”

He replied back a few minutes later with:

“{} It’s great way to slow down rush” (http://bit.ly/o0k433)

I was on the road at that point, and didn’t have time to follow it up until I got home. I sent back a reply at 6:57  PM (Pacific). His very last tweet was at 6:58 PM (Pacific), one minute later. In signing off for the night, in typical Kowalski humor, he said:

“OK fellas, here we go … Sleep well, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning …”

I have no idea if Tom ever read my tweet, and it doesn’t really matter, not in the grand scheme of things. But something about the timing of those tweets made a lump in my throat that would just not go away, and even now, as I write this, some 12 hours after I found out he was gone, there are tears in my eyes.

I will miss his writing and his tweets and his stories and his insight, and I know there is a hole in my heart today that is bleeding Honolulu Blue.

Tom Kowalski was 51.

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