Crying Lions fan's connection to Detroit's football team runs deep

In a sea of 65,000 screaming fans, celebrating the Detroit Lions' first playoff victory at Ford Field, one person's tear-streaked face is where the cameras turned to for reaction. It's raw, it's real, and it's symbolic of what one team means to a city.

But the story of those tears and why Arron Wikaryasz wasn't shy about letting them flow goes deeper than just one win.

"Detroit crybaby guys," he says, walking into his family's home in Burton.

Arron was one of the lucky tens of thousands to see the Lions beat the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night. After the win was secured, and it was safe to believe it had happened, the Lions fanbase went nuts. 

On live TV, cameras zeroed in on Arron to show what that feeling looked like. He's holding a hat with his right hand as he lets out a scream in unison with the base surrounding him. The clip went viral, racking up more than a million views online.

But if you ask Arron's stepdad, he sees something else.

"I think Joe did it. I don’t know what you believe in but we do," said Dave Schmieder.

Joe is Arron's father. A lifelong Lions fan himself, it was him who introduced Arron to the team.

"He got us season tickets in '99. Two tickets, one for me and one for him. That was it, it was the only person he wanted to bring," said Arron. 

Joe, who worked as an ironworker and assisted in building Ford Field, inspired Arron to enter the trade. It made him proud of his dad. Then, when Arron was 14, Joe tragically died in a truck crash while coming home from work.

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When he was laid to rest, he was buried in his Lions jersey.

"Yes I wanted so bad to save it for his son, but it was something I just had to let Joe take with him because that's how much he cared about the Lions," said Marcy Schmieder, Arron's grandmother.

With so much sentiment baked into one football team and one NFL season, it's not surprising when Arron says "it wasn't just a game to me."

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"Thirty years without winning. There are a lot of people that aren't here with us anymore that would have loved to have seen them win on Sunday. And I think that's where the emotion comes from. My dad would’ve loved to have seen that."

Arron doesn't have tickets to the next Lions' playoff game - yet. But you can bet he'll be watching even if he doesn't go.


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