‘Mad Dog’ Russo Ranks Detroit Fans Behind Only 1 Other City

Chris "Mad Dog" Russo

Getty Chris "Mad Dog" Russo speaks during a 2018 MLB event.

Detroit sports have been going though some things for the better part of a decade, but historically, that doesn’t matter much as the team has one of the strongest fanbases in sports according to one of the biggest talking heads of all-time.

ESPN’s Chris “Mad Dog” Russo is never shy about sharing his opinion. Cut from an east coast cloth, it wouldn’t be a surprise had he been someone to overlook the Motor City and the midwest as a whole from a fan respect angle. Instead, he recently praised them within a segment and even gave the struggling Detroit Lions franchise some love.

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Russo recently put together his list of the best sports cities in America on First Take. Perhaps surprisingly for some on the outside, Russo picked Detroit as the second-best sports town in America just below Cleveland. He had the city over some usual heavy-hitters like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, though.

“This is a hard-core sports city. They’ve got the four teams. They love their teams. They’re loyal. They show up, that’s a hard base. They’re blue-collar. They know what they’re talking about. Number two is Detroit,” Russo said within his analysis.

Naturally, Stephen A. Smith had a bit of a beef with the rankings and Boston not being included on Russo’s list. Still, though, that doesn’t take away from the credit that he should get for giving Detroit its national due. Typically, that’s hard to come by for Motown, so props go to Russo for the love.

Russo Gives Lions Shout-Out Within Fan Rankings

Specifically, Russo also mentioned the Lions within the analysis as he ran down the list of Detroit teams and sports. As he said, the team has been at it since 1934, which is a long time in football circles that represents plenty of history. Additionally, he admitted to appreciating the Thanksgiving Day tradition that Detroit holds so dear.

“The Lions since 1934, Thanksgiving, 65,000 (fans),” Russo said, a nod to the team’s history as well as how they pack the stadium on their traditional big day.

Typically, Lions fans don’t get much of the love when the analysis of the city’s sports team goes under the microscope nationally, but Russo giving the fans respect shows that he understands. Arguably no NFL fanbase other than the Cleveland Browns or Buffalo Bills have been through the same agony for the same length of time as the Lions, and both of those teams have recent playoff wins to their credit, which the Lions do not have. To see the fans continue to support the team given this is a pretty special variable indeed. Every year, the fans have optimism and pack the stadium regardless of how the situation usually deteriorates come later in the fall and winter.

Historically Relevant Detroit Sports Attempts Comeback

Nobody could get too upset at folks nationally if they forget to think about Detroit sports at the moment. The teams have not been relevant for some time amid extended rebuilds and retools for all of their teams. After titles in 1989, 1990 and 2004, the Detroit Pistons of the NBA have seemingly been rebuilding since 2010.

Now, with Cade Cunningham in tow as well as Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Troy Weaver, they could be showing signs of building something. After having success in 2006 as well as from 2011 to 2014 with stars like Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, the Detroit Tigers hit an oil slick. They have struggled in 2021, but the hope is some prospects and AJ Hinch can pull them out of their hole.

One of the NHL’s premiere franchises and a dynasty from 1995-2008, the Detroit Red Wings have also taken it on the chin in a rebuild. Steve Yzerman hopes to change that though, with the help of Calder Trophy winning defenseman Moritz Seider and phenom forward Lucas Raymond.

Then, there’s the Lions. As the joke goes, everyone seems to understand that they’ve been rebuilding since 1957. With Brad Holmes, Dan Campbell and a few exciting draft classes, though, there is perhaps some tangible hope for them in the future as well.

Overall, no fans from the city will disagree with being top two. In fact, most would believe they stake a claim to the top spot given what they have had to endure after multiple successful years in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Credit to Russo for being aware enough to show the love.

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