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U.P. ties to Detroit Lions book

Mariucci, Munising and author's grandparents from Felch, Hardwood

September 2, 2012
By BURT ANGELI - Sports Writer , The Daily News

The new book "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph) devotes a chapter to Iron Mountain's Steve Mariucci.

Author Paula Pasche, an award-winning sports writer with The Oakland Press, delivers a balanced and entertaining account of the Detroit Lions through the years. Mariucci, Detroit Lions head coach for nearly three seasons, posted a 15-28 record.

"It could have been a storybook tale," wrote Pasche, noting Mariucci returning to Michigan to coach the home state team.

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The 22nd coach in Lions history, chronicled in chapter 44 named "No Happy Ending, was saddled with Matt Millen as a general manager.

"Mariucci was hampered by Millen's personnel decisions and draft picks," Pasche wrote. "To truly enjoy being a Lions' fan going forward, however, you must forget the Matt Millen era and the eight years he held the Lions hostage."

Mariucci wasn't the only Yooper with a segment in "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die." Joe Paquette walked 17 days and 450 miles from Munising to the Lions training facility in Allen Park.

Paquette brought "sisu" or guts with him for the Lions.

"Sisu is a word in the U.P.," Paquette said. "Outside of the word 'eh,' it's probably the most recognizable one."

There's also another tie via the author's mother, Elizabeth (Backlund) Pasche of San Antonio, Fla.. Her parents, the late Olaf and Helen (McMahon) Backlund, were from Felch and Hardwood.

Lions fans will read, and read again, chapter 68 "Green Bay Sent Packing." That would be the 1962 Thanksgiving game where the Lions sacked Bart Starr 11 times and stunned the unbeaten Packers 26-24.

"It was a formidable team, and we had respect for them and so forth, but we all felt we had a better football team," said Joe Schmidt, a seventh-round draft choice who became a Hall of Fame linebacker.

Football fans of any team will appreciate the information that author Pasche's research uncovered:

- Lions show a 33-36-2 record on Thanksgiving - 9-3-1 against the Packers from 1951 to 1963.

- Three members of the Detroit Lions died during World War II.

- Jason Hanson played for eight Lions head coaches.

- Great debate: Was Matt Millen or Russ Thomas the worst Lions general manager. Thomas was in charge for 23 years.

- Coach Wayne Fontes registered a 67-71 record in eight-plus seasons. Those win and loss totals lead the Lions.

- Didn't know the Lions had a fight song, "Gridiron Heroes," until reading "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die."



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