Sam Richardson was living in Chicago, a member of the Second City sketch comedy group that launched so many Hollywood careers over the years – including, eventually, his own. But as his list of characters and impressions grew, so did something else: his passion for his hometown football team, the Detroit Lions.
He had been a casual fan growing up, owner of the same type of puffy Lions Starter jacket that every kid had at the time. He’d watch games on TV. After the "Detroiters" star who played Richard Splett on "Veep" moved to Chicago and then Los Angeles, the “Detroit Lions mean home.”
Editor's note: This Q&A has been edited for space and clarity.]
Q: How did your Lions fandom start?
Richardson: It started like being in Chicago being a Lions fan and watching Lions games in Chicago bars versus Chicago. I somehow got galvanized. I got ready to rock. Watching that Calvin Johnson completion call in Chicago [Editor's note: The Calvin Johnson rule call] and them going like, ‘Yeah.’ Are you kidding me? I was ready to fight any fight. In a foreign land, cheering for my home team who are the visitors, you know, it really hardens your iron. I made that phrase up, but it means what I think it means. That’s where it went from being casual to let me know every single thing. Because I was never a huge sports fan, but the Lions made me a sports fan. Now I watch all football. Also, I think the Lions helped me get into fantasy football and fantasy football got me into following all of football. Now I have reason to watch every game. And for that, that’s why I also pick homers, so I am invested in my team. I’ll tell you this. I have a player in my lineup who is playing against the Lions, I will pull him. I will pull him. I really will. Because I feel guilty scoring points against myself, if that makes sense.
Richardson: I’d have a hard time considering it. I would be sitting there should I play Mahomes or Kareem Hunt, and I have Kareem Hunt and I have Sammy Watkins, as a matter of fact. I would be like, ‘Ahh, I don’t think I can.’ I have Chris Carson and I sat him for that Lions game. I sat him. He had like 19 points. And I don’t regret it, either.
Q: What is your gameday ritual watching the Lions?
Richardson: So Sunday morning, I’ll get up at like 9, 9:15 [Pacific], set my roster for fantasy in the morning. Gear up. I’ll feel my mood out and see if I’m going to wear a T-Shirt, a sweater, a sweatshirt or a jersey. Most likely I’ll wear the jersey. It’ll either be a Stafford jersey, I just got a Stafford jersey. I almost got a Golden Tate jersey, was just about to buy a Golden Tate jersey. I still wish I had, I love Golden Tate very much. That hurt my feelings. Or I’ll wear a Barry Sanders jersey or my Calvin Johnson jersey. It took me a long time to not wear that anymore. I still wear it but now I’ll wear a Stafford jersey. I’ll go downstairs, watch a pregame show, watch that, watch them barely or not at all talk about the Lions and be fine. And then watch that game start and I’ll sit there and I’ll scream. Now I have a pool so if the Lions win, I have Lions swim trunks so I’ll watch and if they win, I jump in the pool. If they lose, I get depressed and I don’t talk to anybody.
Q: When did you start doing that?
Richardson: I just moved into this house in September. That’s my tradition this year, brand new.
Q: You make a show about Detroit. Hasn’t been much Lions stuff on it. Is that by design because you’re too much of a fan?
Richardson: No. Typically we haven’t had access to the Lions, I should say. I want to incorporate the Lions as much as I can and I’m allowed to. I think it’s like a FOX or a Ford thing with Comedy Central. I think it’s not allowed so we can’t have, I can’t wear a Lions jersey on the show. I would wear one in a heartbeat if they would allow me to. It took us a while to have them let us wear and show the Old English D. Yeah. I wanted to get some Lions players on the show but when we’re filming, that’s when they are in training in the summer. It just didn’t work out.
Q: What would it be like if the Lions won the Super Bowl?
Richardson: I mean, the idea in my head is so blank because it fills me with such excitement that I wouldn’t know what I would do. Also I would win a chunk of money because I always put down $100 on the Lions to win the Super Bowl in Vegas every year. It would be financially beneficial for me. I would scream from the rooftops. I get so mad, I feel like an orphan hearing a kid complain about his parents when I see football fans, like when I see Eagles fans booing the Eagles, I’m like ‘Yo, y’all just won a Super Bowl. You just won it. Chill out. Let your guys do whatever.’ I see a Patriots fan be like, ‘Ahh, freakin' this.’ I’m like ‘Are you kidding? I have no food and you are sitting here complaining about your buffet.’ The greatest day, I honestly couldn’t think of, I’m not married, I don’t have kids, so that would be the easy that would be the greatest day of my life. I can say that.