Brendan Quealy: From one bandwagon to the next

Jan. 14—Although I've lived here in northern Michigan for nearly seven and a half years, I'm sure my Pure Michigander card won't be in the mail anytime soon.

But I will say that I have loved this state my entire life, even as I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and then moved to Central Illinois for a few years before taking a sports reporter gig at the Record-Eagle in August 2016. Michigan has always been important to me. Always will be.

My family took summer, fall and winter vacations to Michigan every year from the time I was just six months old. Whenever I was here, I found peace and comfort and joy. I made memories that have turned into wonderful stories told over and over and over again while still bringing out laughs and smiles — no matter how many times we've heard the punchline.

I sported shirts with the state's outline that read "MI Happy Place" and "HOME." Because that was Michigan has always been for me. It has been my happy place, and now it is my home.

With that said, I hadn't really felt all that obligated to cheer for sports teams from Michigan.

Yes, I know, how can a sports editor for a newspaper in Michigan admit that? But honesty is always the best policy. OK, I take that back, probably not always, but I'd like to think being honest is the best course of action most of the time.

Sure, growing up I rooted for Michigan football when they weren't playing Notre Dame, and Michigan State basketball had my support when they weren't playing Illinois or Northwestern.

But the Tigers were hated by this White Sox fan. As were the Red Wings by this Blackhawks fan. The Pistons — despite the fact that I wore that sweet turquoise Grant Hill jersey with stallion shooting flames out of his nostrils at least once a week every week in eighth grade — could never rival my dynastic Chicago Bulls.

As for the Lions? I never cared too much about the Lions because ... well ... they were the Lions always Lions-ing things up. That and my hatred was directed squarely at the Green Bay Packers just like any good Bears fan.

But with the White Sox and Bulls in disarray (especially after Bulls fans' pathetic booing of the late Jerry Krause, bringing his widow to tears at what was supposed to be a celebration), the Blackhawks waiting for their Stanley Cup window to open with budding superstar Connor Bedard, and the Bears totally wasting the talents of Justin Fields, I'm in sore need of a team to cheer for.

So ... why not the Detroit Lions?

Now, before you get angry at me and accuse me of being a bandwagon jumper, let me just say right here and right now that you are correct to shake your angry fist at me and label me a bandwagon fan. Because that's what I am.

But hopefully, you'll welcome me now that I'm aboard.

I suffer no illusion that I have earned the right to be a Lions fan. I have not suffered in the ways that my good friend and colleague James Cook has suffered throughout his unwavering Lions fandom. But as much as I'll be cheering for the Lions on Sunday, I'll be cheering for fans like him and my 9-year-old nephew all the more.

They deserve a winner. You deserve a winner. The Lions deserve a winner.

That's what I'll be rooting for. You. The fans.

So enjoy it. Live it up. It's a good time to be a Lions fan.

Let's just hope the good times keep rolling all the way into February.