Earlier this month, 63-year-old Joe Paquette set off on a journey to walk 425 miles from Munising, a city located in the Upper Peninsula, to Allen Park, home of the Lions. Paquette's 425-mile walk was not necessarily about showing his devotion to the Lions or garnering media attention; he simply wanted to deliver the message of Sisu to the team.
If you're not familiar with Sisu, you're not alone. According to Paquette's Facebook fan page, Sisu is a Finnish word that stands for "strength of will, determination, perseverance and acting rationally in the face of adversity." The Lions could certainly use some Sisu considering they are fighting to rebuild from 0-16 and 2-14 seasons, so Paquette set off on his journey and arrived at the Lions' facility in Allen Park yesterday.
"Once they see that a 63-year-old man with arthritis in both knees can walk 450 miles just because of Sisu, they are going to buy into it," Paquette said. "We need the fans to get into it. We need our players to get into it. But I don't want them to say that I have Sisu. I want them to feel it. I want them to have it in their eyes and the hunger of Sisu in their eyes so that when they get on that field they know what they are going to do."
Paquette ended up walking around 25 miles a day and walked as many as 32 1/2 miles in one day. As he walked into the Lions' facility in Allen Park on Wednesday, he was joined by family and friends and got quite the reception from Lions players and coaches.
"We've had a long training camp and it was nice to see someone who had as long a training camp as we did," said Lions coach Jim Schwartz. "Football is a game that's meant to be played with emotion and you need to have some excitement, and Joe brought some excitement.
"Lions fans never cease to amaze me."
Linebacker Julian Peterson echoed those sentiments.
"I asked him if I can have his legs for a few days. If he can do that man ... I would have called a bus or a cab or something,’’ Peterson said." it shows a lot of dedication that we have true, hard fans in Detroit. People like that you have to go out and give it your all and give them the type of performance they came to see.’’
Paquette was welcomed to the facility after practice yesterday, and on Saturday, he will attend the Lions-Browns preseason game as a guest of the team.