Monday, April 12, 2021

My Dad's Favorite Football Players

Growing up in central Upper Michigan, Green Bay, WI is only 100 miles away so many people are Packer fans. Detroit is 500 miles and the Mackinac bridge is the only thing that connects upper and lower Michigan. In fact, the Minnesota Vikings are closer to parts of the UP than Detroit, yet die hard locals are still Detroit Lions fans. This includes my Dad. 

Dennis Charette was born in 1951 in Kingsford, MI and has made it his home for the past 69 years. He has suffered through a lifetime of bad Lions football, which includes the longest draught in football for Super Bowl appearances. They last appeared in 1957 when they beat Cleveland in the NFL Championship Game, which predated the Super Bowl. 

Since then my Dad has had two favorite Lions players, ironically both running backs that wore #20, played college ball in the state of Oklahoma, both here Heisman Trophy winners in their junior seasons, both were rookies of the year and they shared the same initials (B.S.) -- Billy Sims and Barry Sanders. When comparing each of their first two years in the league, they had very similar numbers. Sims had 2,740 yards with 26 touchdowns and Sanders had 2,774 yards and 27 touchdowns. Coincidentally, both players had very short NFL careers, with Sims retiring at age 29 due to injuries and Sanders retiring at age 30 by choice. 

When I was 6 years old, my parents went to a Lions-Packers game at Lambeau Field. The morning of the game, my Dad was in the elevator of the hotel going down to the lobby and who stepped in but Billy Sims himself. As luck would have it, my dad had bought me a gray lions zip up sweat shirt and it was in his hand. Billy was kind enough to autograph the sweatshirt. While I would grow up to be a Miami Dolphins fan (because of Dan Marino) this memento was has been pretty special to me all my life. 

As the signatures have faded over the years, my Mom will periodically go over them with a Sharpie to bring them back to life. She still has it in the cedar chest at their house and I bring it out from time to time when I visit. 

So the completion of the Billy Sims 1981 Topps rookie trifecta has brought back a lot of memories from my youth. I hope you enjoy the story and that this brings back memories of when you were a kid and you had special sports related memories with your father. 
  • #100 Bill Sims base card PSA 10 pop 60 
  • #338 Detroit Lions Team Leaders / Checklist PSA 10 pop 8 
  • #473 Billy Sims Super Action PSA 10 pop 13