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Gonzaga alum, Detroit Lions executive has front-row seat to team's success, fan excitement

Jan. 27—Gonzaga University alum Tyler Tran won't be on the field when his employer's team, the Detroit Lions, battle the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's NFC Championship game at Santa Clara, California.

The 24-year-old Lions service representative will still be in a raucous environment as he assists some of the 37,000 Lions fans cheering on their team at a Ford Field watch party in Detroit.

Tran is a membership services account executive for the Lions, which means he manages season ticket holder's accounts, answers their questions and provides on-site support on game days. Tran might help a season ticket holder with mobile app issues, facilitate game day giveaways or meet with clients.

Tran graduated from Gonzaga in 2021 with a bachelor's degree in finance and a minor in sports management. He accepted a job with the Lions, his father's favorite NFL team, the next year.

"I always knew I wanted to work in sports, didn't know exactly what route that I wanted to take, but I'm really happy with where I'm at," Tran said. "It's been unreal these past two years."

Born and raised in San Diego, Tran played soccer and tennis.

He heard Gonzaga had a solid sports management program and knew of its renowned basketball teams. The school's Accepted Student Day, called Gonzaga Experience Live, convinced him to attend the university.

"Everyone was so friendly," Tran said. "It really felt like home and kind of like a family there."

He said he loves Spokane.

Jack and Dan's, a popular watering hole for Gonzaga students, and Tacos Tumbras, a taco truck on Hamilton Street near the Gonzaga campus, are some of his favorite spots.

"It was amazing," Tran said of his time at the school. "Probably some of the best four years that I've had."

Tran turned to the Indoor Football League after graduation, holding similar positions with those teams as he has with the Lions.

He interned with the Indoor Football League's Spokane Shock, which has since been terminated, and later worked for the Tucson Sugar Skulls in Arizona.

When the Lions job opened in 2022, Tran said he figured he'd apply.

His father is from Michigan, attended Michigan State University and raised Tran to be a Lions fan.

The Lions have mostly struggled the past three decades, including four straight losing seasons prior to Tran's first season with the team in 2022. Before this season's two playoff wins, the team hadn't won a playoff game since 1991.

Two consecutive winning seasons have rejuvenated fans and, according to Tran, translated into louder, more energetic games the past two seasons at Ford Field.

"This year, it's been completely different," Tran said of the home-game atmosphere compared to last season.

Lions fans broke the decibel record at Ford Field in the opening round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Rams. They broke it again last week with 134.3 decibels against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tran said he's never experienced a roaring environment like Ford Field's.

"The fans, you can tell they are hungry," Tran said.

"They've been dying for any sort of success like this."

Tran said his parents got a taste of the deafening noise at last weekend's game. He said they were allowed on the field for the national anthem with some of the season ticket holders.

"Them getting to be there for that, that was a really special moment," he said.

Tran and the Lions are one win away from the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance. Tran said he's unsure whether the Lions organization will send him and his colleagues to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl.

Of course, they'll have to beat the top-seeded and favored 49ers to get there.

"We're all really happy to be where we're at," Tran said. "Obviously, one game away from the Super Bowl, we're excited to see what happens on the field. It'll be a good game and the team will be ready to go."