Welcome to Detroit, Jared Goff.
I’m sure you’ve heard that sentiment a lot since the Lions made their trade for you official on Thursday. Although we haven’t met in person yet, I already feel a kinship with you because I’m also a California kid who w̶a̶s̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶c̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶r̶e̶l̶o̶c̶a̶t̶e̶ got the amazing opportunity to move from Los Angeles to Detroit.
And even though you’re a Bay Area guy and I’m a SoCal dude, we should get along fine. Just don’t bring up the San Francisco Giants, the San Jose Sharks, the Golden State Warriors, Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Stephen Curry, Oski, Marin County and Jack London. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?
So, from Californian to Californian, I want to offer you something unique as a welcome gift. I want to give you a primer for the Lions, Detroit and Michigan to give you a head start on navigating your new home.
Michigan left: Remember left-hand turn signals? Yeah, that’s a thing of the past. Get used to something called the “Michigan left” that should have been LEFT on the scrapheap of bad ideas.
Lose the “the”: California’s love to put articles in front of everything, like calling a freeway “the 405.” Here it’s I-75 or just 75.
Door wall: Yep, that’s what a Michigander (yes, it’s Michigander) calls a sliding-glass door. You can still call it that, but people won’t like you. Soda is now pop and liquor stores are party stores. Also, party stores are now party supply stores. It’s confusing. Best advice: Don’t have a party. And don’t open doors.
Orange barrels: The saying in Michigan is we have two seasons: Winter and construction. Californians are spoiled by Caltrans workers who repair roads in the night like ninjas. Expect countless road closures throughout the summer. Best advice: Don’t drive anywhere in the summer.
Go fish: I believe it’s an L.A. County ordinance that every celebrity must be seen at least once a year eating at Nobu, the swanky seafood place in Malibu. We don’t have a Nobu in Detroit. But if you drive south to Canada (yes, south) you can get a lobster roll at the McDonald’s in Windsor.
In is Out: Sorry, bud. No In-N-Out Burger joints in Michigan. Our preferred fast food is something called a Coney Dog. State bylaws require that you vehemently state a favorite Coney Island restaurant and challenge anyone who disagrees with you to a duel. There’s also something called Detroit-style pizza. It’s really just a square deep-dish pizza, but don’t tell anyone, unless you want another duel.
But seriously: Detroit is an underrated food city. You can find just about any kind of food and vibe, and there are cool downtown spots like Wright and Company and Cliff Bell’s. If you like Mexican food, you’re in luck. Mexicantown – I know, I know, but that’s what they call it – has great options like Taqueria Mi Pueblo, but make sure the mariachis are playing that night. You’ll find your teammates love Ocean Prime, which is our Nobu. But don’t sleep on those lobster rolls.
Thanks to last summer’s “Hard Knocks,” we got to see that sweet pitching hole and putting green you had at your house in L.A. You reportedly had about a 13 handicap as recently as 2019, so if you want to work on your game, you’ve come to the right golf-mad state. Two musts while you’re here: Wrangle an invitation to play the South Course at Oakland Hills, and get in at least 18 holes at Arcadia Bluffs. On your way home, stop at Threetops to play one of the world’s most unique par-3 courses.
Lastly, you should understand the lay of the sports land in Detroit. L.A. has a fickle and transient fan base with the Dodgers being the undisputed kings of the realm. Everything else – yes, even the Lakers – are a distant second. And that also goes for the Cleveland/L.A./Anaheim/St. Louis/L.A./Inglewood Rams.
That’s not to say Angelenos don’t care about the Rams, but the city as a whole isn’t invested in the team, much the same way it isn’t invested in most of its pro teams when they aren’t winning.
Detroit is different. People don’t pass through Detroit like they do in L.A. People are born here, grow up here and die here. They’re also very genuine, as opposed to L.A., where people tend to care less about who you are and more about what you do, what you drive and how much you make.
Detroiters root for the same teams their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents rooted for. In this way, Detroit feels like a small town with stories and experiences passed down from generation to generation. I recently spoke with a Lions fan in his late 60s who said his grandfather grew up downtown and said Ty Cobb threw pennies at him and other kids outside the stadium after Tigers games.
The Tigers are starting their 121st season. The Red Wings are in their 94th season. The Pistons are in their 64th season in Detroit. And the Lions will kick off their 88th season in the city.
You get the picture. Lots of history. And that means lots of loyalty. The Lions haven’t won a championship for the past 63 years, with one playoff win in that time. Think of that for a second. You’ve got three playoff wins, which is the projected success a Lions fan could expect to see over 189 years.
And yet Detroit still bleeds Honolulu Blue and Silver because, whether we want to admit it or not, this is a Lions town. The interest and loyalty in this team, which has given its fans little reason to support it, is bewildering. So people here are starved for a winner. For any sign of a winner. For some promise.
This is where you come in, Jared. You’ve won before. You’ve been to the Super Bowl. You’re 26. In L.A., even if you won two Super Bowls you were never going to be Sandy Koufax or Magic Johnson. If you win just one measly playoff game, this city will probably name something after you. The bar isn’t exactly high.
You can do this. Prove the Rams wrong. Prove your old coach wrong. And give Detroit what it has been waiting generations to see: A winning quarterback.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.