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Foster: Detroit happy to help, watch Bills-Jets game

Terry Foster

Detroit — A bone-chilling swirl of wind made a blustery sound and people wrapped up a little tighter as they headed inside to the warmth of Ford Field.

It wasn't seven feet of snow, but thousands of brave and hearty ventured out Monday night for an NFL game that did not involve the Lions.

Welcome to Ford Field, where 56,044 gathered to watch the Jets and Bills.

On what normally would have been a dark night at Ford Field, fans wore Honolulu blue and Buffalo blue. They also wore Jets green.

This was billed as The Snow Bowl on those colorful T-shirts they were hawking in the Lions Roar gift shop. When a snowstorm shut down Buffalo, the Lions and Ford Field opened up their arms and invited the Bills to take refuge and play the Jets.

It was an easy decision because this is what we do. Detroit is known for cars and music, but also as one the most hospitable cities in the country.

If you need a bite to eat, we will share our sandwich. You need car fare, we will provide it.

Do you need a stadium for the night? No problem.

The Lions did the same thing in 2010 when the Metrodome roof collapsed. The Vikings were the home team against the Giants.

"We are glad to do it," Lions president Tom Lewand said. "It's a good opportunity for us to be good partners."

It was a natural fit for the Lions to help out their brothers.

"We are partners with the NFL and all the teams from Monday through Saturday, and then we compete like hell on Sundays," Lewand said.

There was one trick, however. Ford Field seats about 70,000 people, but the stadium was prepared to honor about 117,000 tickets. Good thing everybody did not show.

Deal too good to pass up

Plymouth's Pete Mondt could have stayed home before the fireplace with hot chocolate. Instead, he spent 45 minutes online trying to score tickets. His sons, Rowan 10, and Jack, 6, never had been to an NFL game. He piled the gang, including his wife, Stacey, into a car and drove to the game.

He was so insistent on coming that Mondt switched web browsers until he could secure tickets.

"I cannot see paying the amount of money it takes to go to an NFL game," he said. "This has been a wonderful experience and I am so happy that we were able to do this. This is a wonderful night."

There was even a Detroit flair on the field with former Lions coaches Marty Mornhinweg (Jets) and Jim Schwartz (Bills defensive coordinator, who was fired after last season). Former Michigan great Tyrone Wheatley serves as Buffalo's running backs coach.

This was also good for downtown Detroit as restaurants padded their staffs in anticipation of more customers. Harry's Detroit usually has a bartender and a server on Monday nights. It had three bartenders and five servers. Normally R.U.B barbeque has half-off Monday's. Not on this night.

That's because people like Lions season-ticket holder John Tradii exercised his option and got four tickets for the game.

"(The Bills have) gone through a lot and I am here to support them and cheer them on," he said.