Lions’ Golden Tate takes popularity in stride
Rochester Hills — Golden Tate walked into Dick’s Sporting Goods on Thursday and was dumbfounded when he saw a wall of Lions jerseys.
There were plenty of Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford jerseys. And several Ndamukong Suh No. 90s, too, even though he’s off to Miami.
The only No. 15 — Tate’s number — was on a mannequin at the entrance.
But this wasn’t an oversight. Two store workers said the Rochester Hills location had simply sold out of his jersey, one of the many signs Tate has developed a strong following since signing a five-year, $31 million deal in 2014.
And on Thursday it showed as Tate hosted a youth camp attended by approximately 190 kids.
“That’s something I don’t get caught up thinking about,” Tate said of his increasing popularity. “I’m here to do a job, and I’m here to help bring this community together as much as I can. The way I see it, I’m more than just a football player.”
Tate worked with campers at each station, using a microphone to rally parents in the bleachers at Rochester Adams. When the camp ended, he took 10 campers to Dick’s, where they could buy $150 worth of gear with gift cards provided by store officials.
Before the shopping spree, Tate said he’d be fine with the children buying Johnson jerseys because he’s still with the Lions.
“Just no Suhs,” he said. “That’s a blast from the past.”
Tate, who spent his first four years with the Seahawks, has increased his receptions and yardage in each of his five seasons. He had career bests with the Lions last season with 99 receptions for 1,331 yards. He agreed his performance has made him more popular, but realizes more people will be watching now.
“I think there’s more pressure this year that I don’t come back and have a dud year,” he said.
Tate said he believes he can do better this season, but isn’t focused on meeting any benchmarks. Instead, his goals are team related — win the NFC North, win every game at Ford Field, and go deep in the playoffs.
“If we can do all those things, I would think that statistically I’ll be right on track,” he said.
Tate said conducting a camp like Thursday’s was important because he remembered having star athletes come to his practices or camps when he was young.
The event at Dick’s also was organized by ProCamps — a management and sports marketing company — and was just one more opportunity for him to create memories for some young players.
“Everyone in here who’s receiving a gift card deserves it,” he said. “They worked hard or they’re doing something right, and I think it’s important to show you can be rewarded when you work hard and when you are doing the right things.”