Why I Painted My Face Honolulu Blue For the First Time Ever

by Jim Vella

CEO & Founder, The Vella Group
Published On: January 24, 2024Categories: Insights

Sitting in the stands at Ford Field as the Lions beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, I witnessed a victory that I, like so many other Detroiters, have been waiting for my whole life.

Not since 1957 has our beloved but underachieving team played two playoff games in one season. And never before at home. Not to mention it has been a long 32 years since we last won a playoff game.

As a family, the Vellas have been going to Lions games our whole lives. Even my grandkids know the Lions and root for them. It’s a family tradition, like turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s what we do.

But now we are in uncharted waters, two wins from an elusive Super Bowl victory. For so many of us, we have never even dreamed it would be possible. But this team has everyone believing, even longtime fans who experienced the 0-16 season. Because this team believes it can win anytime, anywhere. More than that, they expect to win. As do their coaches. And their ownership. And the rest of the country. The Lions are becoming America’s team.

Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers, one of the most successful coaches of all time, said that winning wasn’t a sometimes thing. It’s an all-the-time thing. So that’s who the Lions have become. They are now the hunters, not the hunted.

But what I have experienced this season is not just about football for the city I was born in, raised in and live in today.

The national spotlight is shining brightly upon us. All of us, and finally in a good way. Our community is not divided when it comes to the Lions. Sports has a way of doing that to people. In 1968, the Tigers’ World Series win was credited with helping prevent a second consecutive summer of rioting. People were focused on the team, and that gave them a platform to come together.

So now it’s this generation’s time to use this platform to bring our community together for the common good. To put differences aside and open opportunities to talk and more importantly listen.

As I sat in my seat at Ford Field, with my face painted Honolulu Blue for the first time ever in my life, it felt good to be sitting with 65,000 neighbors, who on that day all had one common bond — to cheer our team on to win a football game.

It showed me once again why I love Detroit. And if we are going to be successful as a city and a community, we need to come together and let our voices be heard. Not to speak of how we are different, but of how we are alike, and be the best community that we can be.

It’s a team sport. No one group can do it alone. That’s why I started The Vella Group four years ago. To work with others to make our community the best it can be.

So, in a few weeks, when the games have been played and the cheers have faded, let’s keep this opportunity to come together alive for a better and brighter future for all of us.

Go Lions!

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