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Longtime Lions beat writer Tom Kowalski passes away

The football world was stunned and saddened to learn Monday that longtime Lions beat writer Tom Kowalski passed away suddenly this morning at the age of 51.

Kowalski was found unresponsive this morning. His fiance Diane Wolan confirmed his death to Booth Newspapers, where he worked.

Kowalski was a fixture for more than 30 years of Detroit football coverage. He started at the Oakland Press before spending the last 14 years covering the team for Booth Newspapers and

We always considered Kowalski one of the very best beat writers in the country, a guy that embraced internet coverage to the fullest early.  He filed his last story early Monday and was tweeting up a storm Sunday, so this news comes as a shock.

On a personal level, Kowalski was always a friendly, funny, generous guy whose passion for what he did never seemed to wane.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to Kowalski’s family and his fiance.

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69 Responses to “Longtime Lions beat writer Tom Kowalski passes away”
  1. brickwilly says: Aug 29, 2011 12:35 PM

    R.I.P. Killer

  2. Fan On Fire_Maurice Barksdale says: Aug 29, 2011 12:36 PM

    This is very sad. My condolences to his family.

  3. ajcars says: Aug 29, 2011 12:36 PM

    HORRIBLE news as a Lions fan… you will be deeply missed

  4. denverdrivenfan says: Aug 29, 2011 12:42 PM

    Killer Kowalski was a great voice in Detroit Sports!! He will be missed!!

  5. fearthewopr says: Aug 29, 2011 12:42 PM

    It will be hard to feel close the Lions this year without Killer, best NFL reporter I have ever followed…i am floored.

  6. honolulubluekoolaid says: Aug 29, 2011 12:44 PM

    You will be missed here in the Detroit area Killer.

    He was always a classy guy who took time to talk to listeners (of his radio show) or readers (of his newspaper and internet posts on mlive).
    Every thursday this guy hosted a live chat on Mlive and would field questions from Lions fans (even in the offseason). When you see Tom at a game, and yelled his nickname “Killer”, he would turn around an acknowledge you. I can’t think of anyone more knowledgable or more passionate in their coverage of the Lions. Sad day for us all indeed.

    My Condolences to the Kowalski family.

  7. devoe1129 says: Aug 29, 2011 12:45 PM

    Just when the Lions were about to win a Championship, darn.

  8. thelomasbrowns says: Aug 29, 2011 12:45 PM

    RIP Killer.

  9. severs28 says: Aug 29, 2011 12:45 PM

    Killer was an incredible reporter. He will be missed. He also did Lions pre-game shows and a local radio show. RIP Killer.

  10. beastofeden says: Aug 29, 2011 12:46 PM

    Ndamukong Suh was fined $25,000 for the death.

  11. lionsfan54 says: Aug 29, 2011 12:46 PM

    RIP Killer… you will be missed

  12. ravensfreak00 says: Aug 29, 2011 12:46 PM

    My thoughts and prayers are with his family. I always enjoyed reading his articles and tweets on the Lions.

  13. ramal1dw says: Aug 29, 2011 12:48 PM

    Just bums me out. Especially for him to be here, after all he’s seen, right when the team might turn it around in the next couple years. Talk about Lions Luck. RIP Killer.

  14. johncasseldine says: Aug 29, 2011 12:48 PM

    My condolences. Killer You will be missed. I’m a huge detroit sports fan and the biggest lions fan and you have always been a voice for my favorite sport. Lets get one for killer this yr boyz. RIP Killer

  15. gosuhgo says: Aug 29, 2011 12:49 PM

    Very sad, I always enjoyed his pieces. Rip Tom, you’ll be missed.

  16. aaa82 says: Aug 29, 2011 12:51 PM

    God bless, Killer!

    Keep pounding those coneys upstairs! We’ll miss you.

  17. johnnycash19 says: Aug 29, 2011 12:51 PM

    Heard about this on the radio on the way home and was just SHOCKED. I hope the Lions honor him in some way. RIP Killer.

  18. tigers182 says: Aug 29, 2011 12:51 PM

    What a great guy and an amazing reporter. He will be missed.

  19. trbowman says: Aug 29, 2011 12:52 PM

    Shame he didn’t get to see the Lions inevitable return to the playoffs….RIP

  20. renmasters says: Aug 29, 2011 12:53 PM

    Tom deserved to see the Lions turn the corner. This is really sad. Thanks for years Killer!

  21. trbowman says: Aug 29, 2011 12:55 PM

    His last tweet – “OK fellas, here we go … Sleep well, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning …”


  22. davefitz008 says: Aug 29, 2011 12:55 PM

    This is absolutely heart breaking. Killer was far an away the best Lions beat writer and an even better person. He will be truly missed and never forgotten. RIP Killer and Go Lions.

  23. TheDPR says: Aug 29, 2011 12:55 PM

    Wow. Talk about sudden! He posted his article on the Lions offense at 8am and then just died.

    Condolences to his family and the Detriot area fans.

  24. suhnami says: Aug 29, 2011 12:56 PM

    to those who take this terrible and sad moment as an opportunity to poke fun at the Lions and Detroit…shame on you is all I can say.

    RIP Killer – you will be missed


  25. gdlscott98 says: Aug 29, 2011 12:57 PM

    R.I.P. Killer thanks for giving me my Lions fix every day for all these years!

  26. bwisnasky says: Aug 29, 2011 12:57 PM

    hobartbaker says:
    Aug 29, 2011 12:37 PM
    Oakland, then Detroit. He couldn’t take it anymore.


    Erm.. that’s the Oakland Press as in Oakland Michigan… not Oakland Cali…. but nice try to get a dig in at 2 teams that have been bad for a decade.. even though anyone with half a brain could figure it out… That said.. RIP to the guy.. not a Lions fan.. don’t even know who he was.. but 51 is much too close for comfort, and certainly much to young to pass away…

  27. GC Eric Griffin says: Aug 29, 2011 12:58 PM

    As a transplant to the Detroit area, Killer was one of the only reasons I like the Lions. He was insightful and enthusiastic and having met him a couple times a great sports fan that loved to talk football. He will be missed here in Detroit, it is too bad he wasn’t known more around the country.

  28. darthhitman says: Aug 29, 2011 12:58 PM

    R.I.P. Killer, there will never be another like you man. The Pride mourns another

  29. silvercrush says: Aug 29, 2011 12:58 PM

    this season should be dedicated to killer. rip to one of the best

  30. golions26 says: Aug 29, 2011 1:00 PM

    Hey Hobartbaker, Oakland Press is in Michigan. Not Oakland, CA. So not only are you not sympathetic to this unfortunate situation, you’re an idiot as well.

    RIP Killer! Go Lions!

  31. coke566 says: Aug 29, 2011 1:00 PM

    RIP Tom, you were by far the best sports reporter out there. You loved the lions and their fans and we loved you right back. We will always remember you. Hopefully the boys can put together a winning season for you. My condolences to his fiance Diane and the rest of the Kowalski family. Love from one pollack to another.

    beastofeden, hobartbaker I hope karma catches up with you for being so thoughtless towards another human being.

  32. purpleman527 says: Aug 29, 2011 1:05 PM

    @ hobartbaker says: Aug 29, 2011 12:37 PM

    Oakland, then Detroit. He couldn’t take it anymore.

    FYI: The Oakland Press is a Detroit area newspaper.

    Always amazes me how people can just make inaccurate and stupid responses.

  33. hurricaneslicks says: Aug 29, 2011 1:09 PM

    Stunning news. Could always count on his objectivity during his tweets/reporting. Hopefully, now he’ll get an even better view of the Lions enjoying a postseason swim this season.

  34. jdmp86 says: Aug 29, 2011 1:10 PM

    RIP Killer, favorite sports report of all time! He will be greatly missed & I’m so sad he wont be around for the good days ahead for the Leos

  35. pacificamjr says: Aug 29, 2011 1:12 PM

    RIP Killer, wonderful reporter…

  36. TheDPR says: Aug 29, 2011 1:18 PM

    Has a memorial patch or sticker ever been done by a football team for a journalist? Reading all the love for this guy makes me think maybe the Lions should do that. Something as simple as a “K” sticker on the back of the helmet would be dignified and respectful.

  37. sharkcatcher says: Aug 29, 2011 1:19 PM

    Life is short, ya never know when ya gonna go. Don’t get mad at petty stuff. Love your folks and children Hard. RIP Killer.

  38. 46defense says: Aug 29, 2011 1:21 PM

    RIP – Never saw a Lions championship. Not many have.

  39. twindaddy says: Aug 29, 2011 1:21 PM

    RIP. Sad news…

  40. beastofeden says: Aug 29, 2011 1:25 PM


    How hard is it to report; Lions lose. Lions lose again. Lions lose in blow out. Lions draft receiver. Lions draft receiver again. Matt Satfford Hurt. Matt Stafford hurt again. Lions lose game, Stafford in blow out?

    I hope bad Karma catches up to you for wishing bad karma on me!

  41. tampajoey says: Aug 29, 2011 1:30 PM

    Did the cops get Suh’s alibi?

  42. muck241045 says: Aug 29, 2011 1:32 PM

    Sad day today for sure he was a damn good writer and always told it how it was. Sad day.

  43. bcar1023 says: Aug 29, 2011 1:36 PM

    What a huge loss for the Lions, their fans and the NFL. Tom was a class act and a great source for all things NFL. Those taking this moment to poke fun aren’t worthy of the air they breathe. Life transends all else and we still get a couple of retards that can’t see it to maintain enough integrity to not spout their cowardly trash. RIP Tom.

  44. CoachFrazier4Life says: Aug 29, 2011 1:39 PM


  45. coolg3721 says: Aug 29, 2011 1:45 PM


  46. pbolyard says: Aug 29, 2011 1:45 PM

    Well miss you Killer. You were awesome as long as I can remember. RIP

  47. 1liondriven says: Aug 29, 2011 1:47 PM

    Losing Tom is like losing a close personal friend.

    If any of the smart ass posters want to come here and make stupid comments face to face just take I 75, exit on Lafayette and we’ll see how funny it really is.

  48. axespray says: Aug 29, 2011 1:58 PM

    Well …
    Like the best defensive line needed any more motivation, they can now dedicate the season to Tom and try and win the superbowl for him.

  49. vesselsk says: Aug 29, 2011 2:08 PM

    RIP Tom, your insight be sorely missed. I’ll miss the film breakdowns and inside info…I’ll keep ya in mind on my next trip to Telway and Dunkin Donuts 🙂

  50. spartaninnh says: Aug 29, 2011 2:12 PM

    To the news of Killer’s passing; to the people who react to the news of a sudden, unexpected, and untimely death with jeers at sports teams, cities, and fans; to the idiot who keeps downvoting heartfelt expressions of shock and loss:


  51. craggt says: Aug 29, 2011 2:13 PM


    You are a horrible human being.

    Tom was a great reporter and an even better person. I’ve never know a reporter to be so involved with the fans on a day to day basis. My condolences go out to his fiance, his family and Lions fans everywhere who are morning his loss.

  52. simplesimon1 says: Aug 29, 2011 2:50 PM

    tampajoey says:

    “Did the cops get Suh’s alibi?”

    Know what’s funny is I have friends who are all Tampa fans. Unfortunately, whenever there is a story about the Lions there seem to be more hate from Bucs fans in the room than even the division rivals. Don’t know if this goes back to the old divisions but it’s well remembered throughout the year.

    As far as the above little quote goes, Killer actually reported on groups of fans coming together to make sure Suh was drafted. In other words, he was one person who helped media in Detroit understand how bad Suh was wanted in the Lions organization. Your stupidity is far more pathetic than you understand actually. He’s one of the longest and best writers the NFL has had in a very long time.

    As for your comment, not like the D-line needed more motivation, I’ll be forwarding your stupidity and any other comments directly to Suh via twitter. Here’s hoping, for your sake, that it doesn’t cause Suh to want to really be extra motivated week one. It’d be a crying shame if Karma came back and bit all the butts of Bucs fans for all the comments starting with the pleasure of Stafford being injured and ending with the recent jokes about Kowalski passing on.

    See you week 1!!!

  53. deltanovembertoronto says: Aug 29, 2011 3:05 PM

    RIP Killer. I’m surprised PFT didn’t use this opportunity to knock on Suh.

    You will be missed. forever!

  54. lionpride24 says: Aug 29, 2011 3:16 PM

    RIP Killer dont worry all of us true lions fans will still represent, and enjoy the game from a far better view than us God bless!!!

  55. jimmylions says: Aug 29, 2011 3:26 PM

    At the Lions after-practice press conference, Killer always got to ask the first question (senior reporter in the room). Today Jim Schwartz skipped the first question in honor of Killer:

    “When we’re ready, we’ll go to the second question,” he said. The group then took a moment of silence in honor of Kowalski.

  56. dwntwnbadboy19 says: Aug 29, 2011 3:29 PM

    R.I.P Killer, I will take my close friend opinion that you were one of the best. God bless your family.

  57. johny101010 says: Aug 29, 2011 3:39 PM

    R.I.P Killer. You were a class act eventhough we lion fans made fun of u and your stache.
    You were the best and it is sad we took your analysis for granted.

  58. Soulman45 says: Aug 29, 2011 3:42 PM

    So lone KILLER you are one of the great one.

  59. lionpride10 says: Aug 29, 2011 3:46 PM

    Gonna miss you killer.

  60. lionsfanatic84 says: Aug 29, 2011 4:14 PM

    RIP Killer, you were a great

  61. hatesycophants says: Aug 29, 2011 5:21 PM

    Thanks, Killer K. Crappy day for football fans.

  62. tokyolionsfan says: Aug 29, 2011 5:22 PM

    Having been born and raised in the Detroit area in the 70’s, I have been following Killer for decades. He always tried to bring the fan closer to the game and educate fans thru his work. I learned a lot about NFL strategy from Killer. Read him everyday. Big loss for Detroit and NFL fans. RIP.

  63. liontomyself says: Aug 29, 2011 6:24 PM

    One of the best ever…..even though I never met him, due to reading his articles and listening to his shows (or during pre game on TV), I felt like he was a friend I could just walk up and say hi to……Great Reporter / HUGE loss.

    RIP Killer.

    Condolences to the Kowalski family and friends.

  64. ocdn says: Aug 29, 2011 6:35 PM

    May the Lord smile down upon you,
    May the road rise up to meet you,
    May the rain fall gently in your fields and
    May the sun shine warmly on your face.

  65. detroitnorth says: Aug 29, 2011 7:09 PM

    What a loss . Reading the news from Killer was how I started and ended my day for over 20 years.
    He was the best. What a huge loss for the community!
    My sincere condolences.

  66. jlantagneart says: Aug 29, 2011 9:40 PM

    R.I.P. Killer. We definitely lost a passionate and dedicated Lions fan and a true class act. It’s hard to imagine checking into MLive everday and NOT seeing one of his articles. Whether or not you agreed with him all the time, you had to respect his dedication and his opinion. When the Lions finally make it to the Super Bowl someday it’ll put a smile on my face to think that you and my Grandpa will be up in Heaven cheering them on.

  67. polishkingski says: Aug 29, 2011 10:13 PM

    i am a bills fan but whenever pft posted a link to kowalski, i always read it and enjoyed what he had to say. very solid writer for the lions. my sympathys to his family and the lions fans.

  68. steelersf123 says: Aug 29, 2011 10:51 PM

    He was the beat writer who made the Lions’ pick for the “On the Beat” mock draft segment on

  69. staffordsyear says: Aug 30, 2011 1:23 AM

    R.I.P. killer.

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