Thursday, May 30, 2024

Devin Scillian: As Detroit hosts NFL Draft, let’s borrow a page from the Irish

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You’d think the guy who’s been reporting on all of the downtown road closures would have no trouble getting to work the Monday before the NFL Draft. You’d be wrong. But the long detour to our downtown studios was yet another reminder of just how big this week is for the D.

I’m not, generally speaking, a handwringer about our ability to host big events. We’ve proven our muster time and again, from big one offs like the Super Bowl to the big yearly traditions of the fireworks and the Thanksgiving parade. But I just returned from an eight-day trip to Ireland and I would love to see us borrow a page from the Emerald Isle.

This was my second trip to Ireland and on both visits I’ve been joyously astonished at the unfailing kindness of the Irish people. In fact, it’s more than kindness. There seems to be a built-in cheeriness about the Irish, very much at odds with the melancholy so present in Irish literature. (James Joyce was decidedly lacking in “cheeriness”.) But as we prepared for our trip back home over the weekend, the four of us on the trip couldn’t recall meeting one (how shall I put this?) jerk on the entire trip. We couldn’t even seem to recall someone you might describe as having “a bad day.” Now, sure, as we were staying in hotels and frequenting restaurants we were coming in contact with Ireland’s starting offense of hospitality. But shop to shop, pub to pub, street to street, we were met with only kindness and generosity. Irish pub culture has a lot to do with this. People head into pubs with the expectation of meeting new and interesting people rather than hunkering down in their comfortable cliques. It’s why there are so many Irish-style pubs in the U.S. though, it must be said, they seldom approach the communal magic of the source material.

I guess I’m really hoping we can borrow a page from the Irish this week as so many visitors come pouring into town. I’ll admit I’m not sure this is a necessary admonition. I typically find Detroiters to be very friendly and helpful. However, sometimes, when football is involved, things can get a little less civilized. I’ve seen it plenty of times since my seats at Ford Field are on the visitors’ side. There’s nothing like the sight of a Packers jersey to push up the dander of a Detroit Lions fan. (Personally, if there’s a Cowboys logo somewhere in sight I can grind right through a molar.) But here, too, the Irish showed me grace. I was talking about English Premier league soccer with a guy at a pub in Killarney. He was a Liverpool fan and asked which team I support. It felt like a trap since I am the fan of a team that is very un-Liverpudlian (Arsenal). But rather than throwing down with me or asking me to step outside, he patted me on the shoulder and said something along the lines of, “Well, we can’t all be perfect” and we both laughed heartily.

So while I want everyone who comes to Detroit to really experience the Detroit so many of us know and love, I’m also hoping we can be a little Irish over the next few days. Help a Bears fan find their way to Hart Plaza. Tell the guy in the Aaron Rogers jersey just how great the DIA is. If there are two open seats at your table in a very crowded restaurant, ask that couple from Kansas City to join you.

And if, by chance, you come across anyone visiting from Ireland, well, you’re in for a treat.

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