Teaming up with the Lions

I recently agreed to participate in an upcoming charity bass event that already has become a big thrill for me and my family.

I recently met with Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz at a luncheon, and he asked me to help him with his signature charity event for 2012 – a bass tournament – in Detroit next summer.

Now, I realize some NFL fans outside of Michigan may be snickering. The Lions have taken a beating over the past several years and have hardly been one of the marquee teams in the league.

But when you grow up in Michigan, you live and die with the Lions and Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have won their division and made the playoffs, and we have a good feeling about the Lions this season. There’s a buzz going on throughout the state, and I think Coach Schwartz is turning things around.

It’s been a tough decade for Michiganders, but we’re coming back economically and as a national sports hotbed.

The details of the Lions event haven’t been finalized, but it will be held somewhere in the Detroit area next June. The event will involve both current and former Lions’ players, coaches and other celebrities. Fans will bid on the opportunity to fish with players and celebrities and will get to mingle with the players and coaches after the tournament. We anticipate raising several thousand dollars to be split between Coach Schwartz’s charities and mine.

We announced the event at a Bass Pro Shops media event in Auburn Hills, Mich., where four Lions players and I signed autographs for two hours.

Afterwards, Coach Schwartz gave me tickets for my family to sit in his suite at last Sunday’s Lions game against the Kansas City Chiefs. If that wasn’t cool enough, we also got to meet singers Kid Rock and Bob Seegar who were in the suite next to us. We also got to go down on the field during the pre-game warm-ups and talk to some players. It was quite a thrill for my boys to see the field and the players that close.

Not all charities have as many perks but that doesn’t diminish the importance of the others in which I get involved as my time allows.

One that is very dear to me is the March of Dimes for which I do as much as I can. We’re finalizing details now on a major charity event I will do with them and we’ll announce it this winter.

March of Dimes is special because my twin boys were born premature, weighing less than 2 pounds each at birth. Thanks to the work of March of Dimes, thousands of children like them are able to lead normal lives.

It’s important to note that I’m not the only Bassmaster pro who gets behind charity projects and events, as several others get involved in worthy charities of their choice as well. It’s an opportunity to spread goodwill on behalf of our sport and do what we can to help others.

Remember: It’s all about the attitude!