Lions honor Tom Kowalski

I’ve learned some stunning news this year during PFT Live.  In May, I got word that Dick Ebersol was leaving NBC moments before an interview of Vikings V.P. of stadium wrangling Lester Bagley.  I managed to cough up at least one complete sentence (I think) during the ensuing questioning.

Today, during an interview of Vikings beat writer Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, I learned that Tom Kowalski of had died.  I trudged through the rest of the segment, largely numb to whatever Jeremy and I were discussing, and then I clumsily broke the news to Peter King during the next segment of the show.

The Lions honored the man who covered the team for 30 years on Monday, with coach Jim Schwartz not fielding the first question at his press conference, which Kowalski traditionally asked given his tenure covering the team.

“I got the word on the practice field awhile ago about Tom’s news,” Schwartz said. “We just brought the team up and had a moment of silence and prayer.

“Obviously, our condolences go out to his friends and his family, of which we consider ourselves both here.”

“The entire Lions organization, the Ford family, and me, personally, were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tom Kowalski this morning,” Lions president Tom Lewand said.  “Tom was a true professional, the consummate beat writer, somebody who brought a lot of tremendous information to our fans — even in times of disagreement; we always had the utmost respect for his professionalism.”

Kicker Jason Hanson, who secured his 20th season with the team on Monday given the decision to cut Dave Rayner, knew Kowalski better than any other player.

“I have too many [memories],” Hanson said.  “It is one of those things, just like with everybody, takes you by surprise.  It kind of knocks the wind out of you.  You don’t know what to say or think yet.  It is just amazing.  Of all the reporters, I think he was the one that got it right most of the time and really had the insight.

“Beyond that, regardless of any of that, he will be missed by all of us.  And everyone in this locker room, their condolences and their prayers and their thoughts go to his family and friends.  I am just at a loss of words.  I don’t know what to think.  We all are like ‘Is it true?’  We are devastated.”

I’d never met Tom, but we’d traded plenty of e-mails, and I think we talked on the phone at least once in the past 10 years.  Most recently, he helped me track down details of the report regarding an incident involving Braylon Edwards’ entourage in Michigan, before news of the situation had made it onto the Internet.

Moving forward, whenever I think of the Lions, I’ll think of Tom Kowalski.  Plenty of other people surely will do the same.  And that’s probably exactly how he’d want to be remembered.

30 responses to “Lions honor Tom Kowalski

  1. Poor guy – decades of covering an awful team, and then to pass on right when they’re on the verge of wreaking some havoc.

  2. ::Lions Fans::
    Lets honor Killer and use his suggestion for the Dline nickname:

    Brute Squad

    I’m just a fan who reads his stuff and heard him the radio, but man, its like you knew him.
    Just had a way of being there for fans. Devastated when i heard this. Though it was a joke or something. I dont know how alot of us fans will get through the season…he brought the real story everytime and can never be replaced…

    Need some other reporters to honor him and help out or something.

  3. Another thing, you will see the passion that Lions fans have for their city, team, and everyone associated right here.

  4. As much as Tom loved the Lions, I think he loved the Lions’s fans as much or more. He regularly interacted with us in person, thru email, and via twitter. R.I.P.

  5. Thanks, Mike. That was heartfelt and sincere. Deepest condolences go out to Mr. Kowalski’s family.

    Rest in peace, Tom.

  6. I’m not a Lions fan, and have never read an article written by Tom as far as I know. That being said, he sounds like a consummate professional, and it is clear that Lions fans, players, and sportswriters in general had deep respect for him. Condolences to his family and friends.

  7. Well put, Mr. F.
    Tommy meant so much, to so many different people, the perception of the NFL as a Lions fan will forever be shaped by the insight that killer brought to us, the Lions faithful. RIP

    ps– I’m warmed by what this team is about to do this season in Tom’s honor! 11-5 and an NFC championship is not an unreasonable expectation!!

  8. Tom will be missed here on earth, but now there is Lions talk in Heaven. I am sure he has the best seat in his mansion to watch his beloved Lions now!!!

    RIP and may your family find peace through this very difficult time. Blessings to you all!!!

  9. i always enjoyed and looked forward to”killer’s” analysis of the lions, as if he were the gospel. i’m sure i’m not alone in that aspect because he was seemed to be one of us, the fan who happened to have the ultimate job, covering OUR football team. it just sucks because once the team seems headed in the right direction, God had another job for him. thoughts and prayers for the kowalski family and friends….

  10. Used to listen to his weekly radio spot on the Drew & Mike show, and read the majority of his articles for all my Lions news. He was the best! RIP. Brute Squad it is!

  11. “The way I look at him, he is all Detroit. People in this area that I met, they are all alike and he epitomized that. Our conversations were solid, and there was mutual respect for each other.”
    Gunther Cunningham
    “Tom was a great guy, he was a big football guy. You could tell he knew football, he loved it. He was always a good guy in our locker room, and we were blessed to have him around.”
    Matthew Stafford
    “I am just at a loss of words. I don’t know what to think. We all are like ‘Is it true?’ We are devastated.”
    Jason Hanson

    Killer you will be missed! God bless you, your friends and family.

    Rest in Peace Killer.

  12. I have been following Tom since I got the internet many years back. He was the best Lions reporter and a great guy from what I could tell. Thanks for your dedication. R.I.P. Tom, I’ll pray for peace for your family and friends.

  13. Tom was the best beat writer, covering the NFL, in the entire country.

    He was the smartest, hardest working writer that delivered what no one else could even see.

    His intellect for the NFL was second to none.

  14. As a beat writer, Tom was about as good a conduit to the Lions organization as anyone could have. He was opinionated, but not like common-day media that think they have to say something controversial or bash the team for ratings. When he shared his opinion (which he did every day on radio and in print), he shared the factors that led to his conclusions without twisting any of them.

    He did everything he could to satisfy the Lions fans thirst for details about their team, even in the absolute slowest times of the year. If you were a fan of the team but didn’t particularly care for Killer, you’re still going to miss him and his work.

    Brute Squad is a fitting tribute. Neither the fans nor the players ever got behind “silver crush”. Naming them Brute Squad is a fitting tribute to Tom and would gain support from fans and teammates alike.

    One of his last tweets:
    “OK fellas, here we go … Sleep well, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning …”

  15. Guys I’m still having a hard time grasping the idea of going through a Lions season without “Uncle Killer” I mean really, who do we turn to, what do we do? Tom IS the voice of the Lions fans and will always be THE source for all that is Detroit Lions football …. It will Never be the same without the Killer

    RIP Big Guy … we miss you! GO LIONS

  16. Lions fans are used to dark days and losing. But yesterday was as dark as it gets when we suddenly lost long-time “Lions Insider” Tom ‘Killer’ Kowalski, who was found dead in his home at the age of 51. At his last radio interview, yesterday morning, when asked if he’d pay a return visit to the radio studio at the midpoint of the upcoming Lions season, he chuckled and said he’d be back “when the Lions are 7-1.”

    “Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual lightshine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

  17. Classy statements from Schwatrz and the Lion’s players and organization.

    Great football writers are few and far between – those New Englanders who remember Will McDonough feel your loss, Detroiters.

  18. The first time he replied to me on M-Live and said I had a valid statement I felt like a fan girl. After so many years of frustration the man was happy with the way the team was moving forward. It’s a shame. No writer would have the appreciation for what the Lions are about to do than what Killer would after reporting on a dismal franchise for most of his 30 years. Time to win.

  19. As jaggedmark and huhfasi have pointed out, Tom “Killer” Kowalski in addition to being the beat writer for the Lions for 30 years, he was a fan. He loved to engage Lions fans.

    He was also ahead of the curve when it came to covering sports on the Internet, and was comfortable exploiting all of the resources available – chats, videos, twitter, e-mail … he connected with Lions fans in many different ways.

    What’s especially cool is that Killer was always happy to throw a splash of reality on Lions fans, when our hearts get ahead of our heads. In his last radio interview, one of the guys said he thought the Lions would go 12-4 this season. Killer started laughing and told the guy he was crazy. He gave a very sobering description of why we’ll be lucky to go 8-8!

    I love Schwartz’s gesture to start the press conference with the second question. That makes me feel very good about our coach. I’ll miss having Killer there to educate me about the game and make me a smarter fan.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!