'MNF' in Detroit: Downtown Detroit hopping

DETROIT -- My trip into downtown Detroit brought me past Joe Louis Arena and down Jefferson Street. I weaved through the local streets surrounding Ford Field, partly to get a sense of how Detroit is enjoying its first "Monday Night Football" game in 10 years and partly to avoid the traffic pouring into the area.

I don't want to add to the layers of condescension that some of you already feel has been heaped on Detroit for this occasion. I'm not sure if this night will be great for the city of Detroit. I don't usually like to make those sorts of connections. There are many, many other issues involved there that have nothing to do with football.

But it'll be great for the Detroit Lions fans, especially those who converge at Ford Field.

And that's what interests me most. It was obvious to even an occasional visitor that downtown Detroit was hopping Monday afternoon. At least on my drive, the sidewalks were filled with fans wearing Lions jerseys and other garb. Outdoor bar patios were packed, in part to take in the Detroit Tigers' appearance in the American League Championship Series.

I've been coming to Ford Field since it opened, and on some days it was quiet enough to hear individual conversations below the press box. Three hours before Monday's game, it was already a zoo. Stadium workers have been watching and cheering the Tigers on the big screen, and there is what I can only describe as a youth hip-hop chorus performing on the field. (I know. I'm showing my age.)

Via Twitter, Lions players have been imploring fans to make Ford Field the kind of home-field advantage Monday night that other indoor stadiums provide NFL teams. That's what I think will be great for the city of Detroit and the Lions: If their fans can join in on the competition of sorts after so many years of sitting it out.

More to come, including an eagerly-anticipated pregame warmup from rookie Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley.