clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Notes: Lions historian shares hilarious anecdotes, insight into team history

Detroit Lions’ team historian and former VP of communications Bill Keenist joined the Detroit Lions Podcast to take listeners on an awesome trip down memory lane. 

Buffalo Bills vs Detroit Lions Set Number: X42298 TK1 R3 F2

History buffs, especially Detroit Lions history buffs, there is an incredible podcast episode just for you. Lions team historian and former VP of communications Bill Keenist joined the Detroit Lions Podcast to take listeners on an awesome trip down memory lane.

Keenist worked for the Lions' public relations department from 1986 until 2018 before moving into the team historian role. You can imagine all the anecdotes he shares in this podcast. I’ll give you an example. Around the 40-minute mark, podcast host Chris asks if the stories about Barry Sanders just being an all-around class act are pretty accurate.

The year was 1993 and the Lions traveled to London for a preseason game. Apparently, the big thing at that time was visiting the Hard Rock Cafe. The restaurant would attract long lines, so the Lions arranged for anyone who had traveled to the UK for the game to receive a lapel pin that allowed them to skip to the front of the line.

The Friday before their Sunday game, a couple of beat writers — sporting their magic ticket lapel pins — were proudly walking to the front of the very long line that evening. Halfway down the line, which often took two or three hours to get through, who do you think they saw standing there waiting in this incredible long queue?

“Barry Sanders. All by himself,” Keenist said. “They see him and it’s like, ‘Barry! Hey! What are you doing?’ He goes, ‘I’m going to the Hard Rock.’ And Barry, as he always was, he always followed protocol, had his pin on. They go, ‘Barry, you’ve got your pin. You don’t have to wait. Come on with us, we’re going in — we’re going to the front of the line.”

And what did Keenist say Sanders to them?

“‘Nah, you know what. I’ll just wait like everybody else.’ An ultimate conviction on these guys. Did they stay with him? No, they went to the front of the line,” Keenist laughed. “You talk about humility... He was arguably the most popular NFL player at that time. I mean, he was a giant when he came to popularity. Nope, he’s going to stay right where he was. That’s one story I think exudes humility, decency, I’m no better than anyone else.”

The episode is two hours long and drew my attention because I saw so many tweets from listeners who wished it was even longer. You can listen here.

And onto the rest of your notes.

  • Absolutely incredible.

  • The Lions giving back to the community:

  • We said what we said.

NEW: Join Pride of Detroit Direct

Jeremy Reisman will drop into your inbox twice a week to provide exclusive, in-depth reporting and insights from Ford Field. Subscribe to go deeper into Lions fandom, and join us on our path to win the Super Bowl.