UM fan Dingell likes Wolverines this weekend

Julie Walker Altesleben
The Detroit News

Look out, Sister.

The Michigan basketball team will not head into Saturday’s Final Four matchup alone — they’ve got the now-retired, longest-serving Congressman John D. Dingell (D-Dearborn) on their side.


John Dingell

From atop his Twitter perch, where at last check he had 228,000 followers, Dingell has cheered on all things Wolverines — and throwing shade as needed. It didn’t take long for Twitter to envision a Dingell vs. Sister Jean, Loyola-Chicago’s beloved team chaplain, matchup. Dingell, 91, took time to answer via email some questions about this, his Wolverines love, and game routines with him and his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. Before Twitter, for the record, the congressman has played a little himself.

“As to sports, soccer and a little bit of semi-pro football for a local bar in my youth,” Dingell said. “In Congress, I played paddleball with George Bush, Don Rumsfeld, Lloyd Bentsen, among others regularly when we were younger and fitter ... But for the record, I still weigh the same.”

Question: A quick internet search shows you and Congresswoman Dingell both attended Georgetown. When, how, what made you all adopt the Wolverines as your team?

Answer: Well, we represent this fine institution, but my four kids attended either UM or MSU, and I’ve always been a Wolverine fan.

Q. Do you root for MSU on UM off days?

A. Go Blue. Next question.

Q.  What are your favorite UM sports? Do you prefer college over pros? I noticed you were up on Trey Burke’s big game last night!

A. Michigan all the way, but I like keeping tabs on our Wolverines when they move on. Trey Burke’s a good Michigan man. I’m also a Detroit sports fan, even though it can be bad for my health at times.

Q. What’s been your favorite Michigan moment in the NCAA Tournament so far?

A. Other than Jordan Poole’s game winner and watching Coach Beilein cut down the nets in LA, this is an easy one — watching CJ Baird drill a three in the final moments against Texas A&M. It’s always great to see a walk-on get his moment in the sun.

Q. Got a favorite Michigan player?

A. It’s a team sport, so I don’t pick favorites.

Q. What’s a typical game day ritual like? I imagine the congresswoman stays busy, but do you get to watch games together, do you watch at home, go out, cook a certain food, etc.?

A. We watched the Michigan game together Saturday night, but it depends on where we are and what’s going on. My favorite place to watch is in my chair where I can comfortably yell at the TV.

Q. Do you fill out a bracket?

A. No, but Deborah did.

Q. Is it busted?

A. She has Michigan in the championship so she’s doing OK.

Q. Did you see President Obama, after picking MSU to win it all, has swung his favor to Loyola? Have you any last answers on that? I understand if you want to leave that one alone.

A. That was one of his few mistakes.


Q. Do you have any game day superstitions?

A. You have to sing a rousing chorus of the Victors. Followed by Varsity and the Yellow and Blue. In that order.

Q. Did you know about Sister Jean before this week?

A. No, but she seems like a nice lady. She just has the misfortune of pulling for the wrong team.

Q. Are you friends with Jalen Rose’s grandmother?

A. Not yet, but I think this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.


Q. Got any words of encouragement for Sister Jean?

A. We both pray to the same guy upstairs, so we'll just have to see what he decides.

Q. Did you cut down those curtains?

A. Deborah hid the shears, but if we win this thing I've already gotten permission to bring out some champagne.

Q. People are saying UM is now the “bad guys” team compared with Loyola and the Sister. What say you to that?

A. They say nice guys finish last so if it helps us win, I’ll take it.


Q. Do you have an assist on your Twitter account, or do it all yourself?

A. I run things by Deborah sometimes. You should see what she doesn’t let me say.

Q. When did you realize you were a Twitter king?

A. Twitter can be a bit of an unsavory place at times, so I'd hate to be the king of it. I just enjoy yelling every now and again and it turns out the internet is a perfect place for that. I'm honestly surprised people even read it.

Q. 228K followers! Got any tips?

A. Be 91 and able to say whatever you want.

Q. What’s your prediction for the rest of the games and National Championship?

A. #GoBlue

Q. If UM makes it, where will you watch the big game?

A. In my chair with the volume as loud as our neighbors will allow.

Q. Are you following Michigan hockey’s Frozen Four run?

A. Absolutely. Coach Pearson has done a great job with the team this year and they are making Ann Arbor proud. Let’s hope we can bring two national championships back to campus in the coming days.

Q. What’s next in sports for you? Tigers?

A. I'm looking forward to baseball season starting up again. We'll see if the Tigers are, too.