MILFORD, Mich. — There were no torn ligaments, concussions or penalties suffered during the KVD/Detroit Lions Charity Bass Tournament, but there were a lot of bruised egos after the fish hit the scales.
But hey, it was all in good fun and for a great cause, as bass anglers and NFL players bonded on Kent Lake outside of Detroit to raise money for charity.
Some two dozen Lions players and coaches, four Bassmaster Elite Series pros and several top Michigan anglers dueled it out in a four-hour tournament that saw a Lion-laden team walk away with bragging rights.
With regional pro Jeff Elliott as their guide, Lions wide receiver Titus Young, safety John Wendling, and wide receiver coach Shawn Jefferson won with 14 pounds, 9 ounces.
The trash talking among players and a few of the anglers began long before the boats left the dock, according to Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz, who helped plan the event with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kevin VanDam.
“When we asked volunteers from the team to participate, a lot of hands shot up in the air,” said Schwartz. “We don’t get that kind of participation for our golf tournament. These guys love to fish and don’t feel the pressure to perform like they do on a golf course. We’ve never seen this kind of excitement for a charity event.”
In fact, the Lions held their first day of mini-practice the morning of the event and left the field at 10:15 to arrive in time for the Noon take-off.
Schwartz labeled the event a huge success and told the crowd that gathered at the weigh-in that another charity bass event will be held next year – only better.
“This is the first year, and we’re very pleased with how it went,” he said. “I can tell our players want to do it again.”
Lions backup quarterback Shaun Hill echoed those sentiments.
“I’m in a lot of charity events but this is the most fun of them all,” he said.
“It was a blast,” added Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew. “But I gotta tell ya, it’s a lot easier going after linebackers than it is gettin’ after these bass.”
Lions wide receiver Willie Young, who predicted he and The Bassmasters TV co-host Mark Zona would win (they finished seventh), said he was going to change his sack dance.
“After I sack a dude, I usually pretend to make a cast and reel him in, like a fish,” he explained. “Today, I learned about flipping, so I’m going to be flippin’ and jerkin’ in my dance this year.”