Detroit City FC spends off day at Lions training camp
Allen Park — There was a second pro football team at Detroit Lions training camp on Wednesday.
Detroit City FC's men's side made productive use of their off day, traveling to Allen Park to watch the Lions run practice from the VIP section.
Some of them — like midfielder and Michigan native Brad Dunwell — are Lions fans. Also amongst the group were supporters of the Miami Dolphins (defender Rhys Williams), Las Vegas Raiders (forward Pato Botello Faz), Dallas Cowboys (midfielder Maxi Rodriguez) and the Philadelphia Eagles (forward Antoine Hoppenot and midfielder/defender Michael Bryant).
But nobody showed their football fandom quite like Ghanian forward Francis Atuahene, who showed up to the open practice with a Lions-Los Angeles Rams hybrid jersey of former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Atuahene, who said he chose to play soccer at the University of Michigan in part because of the love he developed for football when moving to the United States as a teenager and went to two Lions home games last season, said he got the jersey from his girlfriend.
"She has never missed a home game in the last 25 years, so I went through her closet, and I was like, 'Oh, my God, there's so many Lions jerseys,'" Atuahene said. "She just got this last year, so I was like, all right, let me rep this. Then it's like, everywhere I pass, everyone loves it. So I might as well have to get myself a new one."
While Dunwell voiced support for his teammate's decision to wear the garb, reading between the lines, it's hard to tell whether he thought the mix-matched jersey constituted a fashion foul.
"You gotta support Stafford, right? Obviously, former Lion, Francis supports him, not much more to say about it," Dunwell said.
Both the players and head coach Trevor James marveled at the timed precision that dictated the Lions practice. The different positional units would separate, come back together, and then break off again after only a couple of minutes each time.
"In our game, once we start, we don't stop. We only stop for break for water, and then we are back in. But they stop, they talk and then a whole complete different set of players will do some complete different things," Atuahene said. "So it's like a team within a team, which is kind of cool to me and interesting."
While there were many DCFC players watching the kickers and punters, wondering how their own boots would fare on the gridiron, at least one of them didn't have to wonder: Botello Faz, who is a former All-State kicker in the state of Texas.
Botello Faz grew up in San Antonio, the same city as Lions wide receiver Josh Reynolds. The two met after practice to swap jerseys.
Injured defender Devon Amoo-Mensah, whose father, Perry, played safety and linebacker at Northern Illinois, said that he could see himself as an inside linebacker.
"I don't know much about football, even though I've been around the sport, but I think just the freedom to kind of do what I want and kind of reading the play from the back, or even a quarterback, just kind of calling the shots, would be cool as well," Amoo-Mensah said.
Dunwell was not so curious with how he'd do in American football.
"If I'm somehow gonna make it at this level, I would have to be a kicker. I'm not competing athletically with any of these guys," Dunwell said. "I wouldn't say (football) is for me. They make a lot more money than me, which might entice me, but no, no.
"I love soccer too much. I'll admire from a distance."