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Seeing All 32 NFL Teams, Over 49 Seasons

by Randy Snow

Original to www.theworldoffootball.com, Sat, February, 10, 2024


This past season, I attended a Monday Night Football game at Ford Field against the Las Vegas Raiders, and in doing so, I completed seeing all the current teams in the NFL play against my beloved Detroit Lions, in person.

It all started back on November 16, 1975 when, at the age of 16, my brother Larry took me to see the Lions play the Green Bay Packers at the Pontiac Silverdome. We sat in Section 128, Row 12 and I was in seat 4. I know this because I still have the ticket stub from that game.

The Lions won the game 13-10 when kicker Erroll Mann kicked the game winning 23-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. It was the first season that the Lions played in the 80,000-seat Silverdome. Prior to that season, the Lions played outdoors at Tiger Stadium for many years.

When I started following the Lions in 1975, Rick Forzano was the head coach. Greg Landry was the quarterback and Dexter Bussey and Horace King were in the backfield. Two future Hall of Famers, safety Lem Barney and tight end Charlie Sanders were also on the team.

I played high school football in 1976, my senior year. Coincidentally, our school mascot was the Lions and our school colors were Navy Blue and White. We had the same Lions logo on our football helmets that Detroit had. Is it any wonder that I was destined to be a Detroit Lions fan?

Throughout the 1980s, 1990s and into the 2000s, I continued to be a devoted Lions fan, though it has not been easy at times. I attended games, bought their merchandise, religiously watched their games on TV and indoctrinated my sons into being fans of the team, something I have grown to regret many times over the years.

Here are some of the highlights from games I have attended over the last 49 seasons;

1977 - Saw the New Orleans Saint play at the Silverdome. Hank Stram, the legendary coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, was the Saints head coach at the time. In that game, future Hall of Fame tight end Charlie Sanders became the Lions all-time leading receiver.

1978 – Minnesota Vikings game. It was the birthday of Lions rookie defensive end Al “Bubba” Baker.

1987 - Attended my first Thanksgivings Day game at the Pontiac Silverdome. I had just gotten married a few months earlier and took my new wife with me. It was her first NFL game and we saw the Kansas City Chiefs.

1990 – Saw my first overtime game. Detroit lost 41-38 to the Washington Redskins.

1993 – Saw the Cardinals play. At the time they were known as the Phoenix Cardinals. They used Phoenix from 1988 through 1993 after they moved from St. Louis. They became the Arizona Cardinals in 1994. 

1994 - Took my five-year-old son, Adam. with me to see the New England Patriots. It was the worst experience ever! He was much too young to take to a game. I did not enjoy the game at all.

1997 - Saw the Lions play on the road for the first time. I took Adam and my daughter Eden to Indianapolis to see the Lions play a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at the RCA Dome.

2001 – Saw my last game at the Pontiac Silverdome. Detroit lost 27-24 to the Tennessee Titans.

2002 – Went to the very first game ever at Ford Field. The Lions hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in a preseason game. Joey Harington was the Lions quarterback that day. A few weeks later, Adam and I drove down to North Carolina and saw the Lions play the Carolina Panthers.

2003 – I saw the San Diego Chargers. Doug Flutie was the Chargers starting quarterback that day. This marked the third time I had seen Flutie play in person, and the third pro football league I had seen him in. The first time was in 1985 when I went to Arizona and saw him play for the New Jersey Generals against Doug Williams and the Arizona Outlaws in the United States Football League. The other time was in 1994 when I travelled to Toronto and saw him play for the Calgary Stampeders against the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League at the Toronto SkyDome. (Today, it is known as the Roger’s Centre.) Flutie led Calgary to a 52-3 win that day. The Stampeders were so far ahead in the fourth quarter that Flutie was taken out of the game, allowing his backup quarterback, Jeff Garcia, to have some playing time!

2008 – The 0-16 season. I actually went to two games that year. I saw them play on the road again in Indianapolis, this time at the newly opened Lucas Oil Stadium, along with sons Adam and Aaron. They had not torn down the RCA Dome yet, so you could still see it across the street. I also attended a game in Detroit against the Washington Redskins later that season.

2009 - My first Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field. They played the Green Bay Packers. When the Lions played in Pontiac, we never had to deal with the annual Thanksgiving Day parade on our way into the game, but Ford Field is just a block from Woodward Avenue, where the nationally televised parade takes place. Unfortunately, I parked on the west side of Woodward Avenue and was not allowed to cross the street while the parade was going on. It was mighty cold that day as the kids and I waited to cross the street and get into the nice, warm, domed stadium.

2010 – Saw the Lions play the New York Jets. In that game, Lions kicker Jason Hanson got hurt and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh attempted to kick an extra point. We were sitting right behind the goalpost when he missed the kick.

2019 – Went to Cleveland and saw a preseason game between the Lions and the Browns with Mike Barksdale, a fellow member of the Pro Football Researchers Association.  

When I began this football journey back in 1975, there were only 26 teams in the NFL and the league played a 14-game schedule. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks were added in 1976. The Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars were added in 1995. The Baltimore Ravens came along in 1996 and the Houston Texans joined in 2002.

Over the years I also saw a couple of teams that no longer exist in the NFL like the Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Charges and Washington Redskins. I have also been to five Thanksgiving Day games, two in Pontiac and three in Detroit.

There have also been “new” teams in recent years like the Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams and the Las Vegas Raiders after they relocated.  

And that brings us to this season. I had been waiting for the Raiders to come to town since 2015. They were the last team I needed to see in person. I had tickets to see them that year in Detroit, but a few days before the game, my wife decided to fall off a horse, get a concussion for the second time in four years and ended up in the hospital. I sold my tickets to the game and stayed at home to be with her.

2023 – Things finally worked out this year for me to see the Riders. I went to the game with sons Adam and Aaron, son-in-law Kyle and daughter-in-law Lizz. We sat in Section 330, Row 16. Detroit won the game 26-14 and improved their record to 6-2 on the season. The Raiders fired their head coach, Josh McDaniels, after that game. But it would not be the last game I would see that season.

For just the second time since I started following the Lions in 1975, Detroit won 12 games this past season. The last time was the 1991 season. That was the year they won their only playoff game since 1957, defeating the Dallas Cowboys 38-6 at the Silverdome.

But that was not the only I went to this past season. At the urging of my son Aaron, he insisted that we needed to go to the Lions home playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams, who were now led by former Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford. I was reluctant at first to shell out the money for the extremely pricy playoff tickets, but I eventually came around. The same five of us, who went to the Monday Night Football game a few months earlier against the Raiders, were back at Ford Field for a playoff game.  

And what a game it was! Detroit never trailed but held on for a 24-23 win. It was their first playoff win in 32 years and it came during the team’s 90th season! Ironically, it was also my 49th Lions game over 49 seasons!

Adam put together a nice YouTube video about our trip to the Lions-Rams playoff game. Here is the link;


It has been an incredible football journey over the past 49 seasons and I am glad that I could share a great number of those games with my wife, my friends and especially, my kids. Football games have been a great excuse for me to spend time with my kids once they were old enough to go to the games with me. Taking them with me also meant that my wife, a less than enthusiastic football fan, could stay at home and read a book in peace and quite.

I have seen many great Lions players over the years in person including running backs Barry Sanders (1989-1998) and Billy Sims (1980-1984), wide receivers Herman Moore (1991-2001) and Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson (2007-2015), linebacker Chris Spielman (1988-1995), defensive ends Bubba Baker (1978-1982) and Aidan Hutchinson (2022- ), kickers Eddie Murray (1980-1991) and Jason Hanson (1992-2012) and the two Hall of Famers I mentioned earlier, defensive back Lem Barney (1967-1977) and tight end Charly Sanders (1968-1977), just to name a few.

So, now that I have seen all of the current 31 other NFL teams play against my Lions in person, what’s next? Who knows? Maybe I’ll attend more away games and try to visit all the other NFL stadiums. Hopefully, there will be more home playoff games and one day soon, maybe I’ll see the Lions win a Super Bowl!

So here’s to the next 49 seasons of Detroit Lions football. By then it will be the year 2072 and I will be 113 years old. Go Lions!


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