Game 33 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Detroit!

December 3, 2015

After a wild finish to the Browns game & making Warrior Wishes come true Monday night in Cleveland my dad & I hopped on an overnight greyhound back to Chicago to spend the day with X-man.


For the 2nd time this week I took a vacation day from work & had the opportunity to join my dad & make more warrior wishes come true this time in Detroit.


8:30am CST Thursday morning, our friend Bill pulled up to pick us up and make the 5 hour drive to Detroit.  We arrived around 2:30 EST and met up with Angelo Rodriguez & the Gold Star family of —- at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel downtown Detroit. (Meet the warriors below)

Angelo was nominated to us by Shaun Castle, a warrior we hosted in Buffalo on our 2013 mission. Austin, a Gold Star kid, was nominated to us by his mom.  Austin’s dad made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country in Iraq.  Austin was only 10 days old…  His mom told us his favorite player is Calvin Johnson.

Shortly after meeting up with Austin & Angelo our friend, Lions QB, Dan Orlovsky came down to the lobby of the hotel to meet up with everyone & give Austin a little surprise.  


Dan handed Austin a box.  He cautiously opened it to find an autographed football, upon inspecting the signature he recognized #81 & the look on his face was absolutely priceless!


We had told Dan about Austin’s favorite player & Dan had Calvin personalize a ball for him!  Dan has been helping us make warrior wishes come true over the past 4 years since he was playing with the Bucs.  We cannot thank him enough for his support & generosity through the years.

Dan took some time to snap a few pictures & hang out before he headed off to prepare for the game.  

We all made our way to visit American Loan & Jewelry AKA Hardcore Pawn.


Hardcore Pawn is a reality television series on truTV about the day-to-day operations of a pawn shop.  The family-owned and operated pawn shop is located in Detroit, Michigan’s 8 Mile Road corridor.

Seth, Les, Ashley & the Hardcore Pawn crew have enjoyed providing the warriors with behind the scenes tours of their operation over the past 3 years.  We got to see the thousands of TV’s and gaming systems as well as endless fur coats & snowblowers.  But everyone’s favorite part of the tour was hanging out with the lion in Les’ office.

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After we all took our pictures with the lion & the hardcore pawn crew, it was off to “Eastern Market Place” to hang out with our good friends at the “Tubgaters tailgate” & time fill up on some pre-game food & drinks.


The Tubgaters typically tailgate with a hot tub, over the past 3 years we have enjoyed thanksgiving dinner with them are thankful for them helping us make warrior wishes come true!

While my dad & the warriors tailgated, I walked over to the stadium to pick up the tickets.  We wanted to get in the stadium early in order to go down by the field and get Dan Orlovsky’s attention.  He said he would try to get Calvin Johnson or Matthew Stafford the stop over.


Austin, Angelo & the rest of the crew met up with me outside the stadium after they were done eating at the tailgate & we made our way to the front row.  Dan immediately spotted us while he was doing his pregame drills on the field.  He wasn’t able to get Calvin or Matt to stop by, but he did bring Golden Tate.  Austin’s face lit up with joy as Golden Tate signed his hat. We thanked Dan one last time before he went in to the locker room to get ready for the game.


We stopped in the gift shop to grab a few souvenirs and then made our way up to our seats in section 216 to watch the red hot Lions face off against their slumping division rivals, the Packers.


The Lions didn’t waste any time and quickly pounced on the Pack.    Austin & Angelo were roaring loudly as Matthew Stafford & the Lions had a 17-0 lead after the first quarter!

Despite a few questionable pass interference penalties, Aaron Rogers & the Packers had trouble doing anything against the ferocious Lions defense.  Detroit led Green Bay at half by the score of 20-0!!!


The Packers finally scored their first touchdown in the 2nd half when James Starks fumbled the ball forward and Randall Cobb luckily fell on it in the end zone.  Less than a minute later the Lions turned the ball over & set up a short touchdown drive for the Pack.  In the blink of an eye the momentum changed, all the sudden the Packers were only trailing by 6 points!

A 4th quarter field goal gave the Lions a 2 score lead, but the were not giving up.  They marched down the field on an 11 play 84 yard drive to score & cut the lead down to 2.

With 3:04 on the clock, the Packers needed to stop the Lions from getting a first down to get the ball back.  However, the Lions converted a first down just before the 2 minute warning & Packers fans around the stadium gave up hope and headed towards the exits.   Just a few plays later the Lions failed to convert on 3rd down and were forced to punt the ball away with 29 seconds left in the game.

After 2 incomplete passes, the Packers were down to their last play of the game standing 79 yards away from victory.  Rodgers snapped the ball, quickly passed it to James Jones who lateralled it to Richard Rodgers, who latteralled it back to Aaron Rodgers who was quickly tackled for no gain on the play.  Ford field went crazy as the Lions fans celebrated the win…. BUT the celebration was quickly interrupted by a penalty flag.  The Lions were called for a 15 yard facemask penalty giving the Packers new life with one untimed play from their own 39 yard line.

“Hike” Rodgers took the shotgun snap.  He scrambled away from defenders somehow avoiding a game ending sack & heaved the ball high into the air.  The ball traveled over 60 yards in the air and landed in the hands of Packers tight end Richard Rogers!  
Angelo, Austin & every Lions fan around the world stood in shock as the Packers pulled out a miracle win.  The loss devastated the lions chances of making the playoffs & all but guaranteed the Packers will be playing in January.
Despite the loss, it was a memorable ending to a memorable day & everyone had a great time.
We would like to thank our friends Bill & Lowell for driving us up to Detroit & helping us host the warriors, Dan Orlovsky for taking the time to hang out with the warriors, hooking up Austin with the Calvin Johnson Autographed ball & getting Golden Tate stop by to meet Austin & Angelo.  We would also like to thank The Westin Book Cadillac & Sheraton Detroit Metro-Airport for providing accommodations for the warriors, New Era Cap for providing Lions Caps, the Tubgaters for hosting everyone at your tailgate before the game & American Loan & Jewelry for providing an unforgettable behind the scenes tour of “Hardcore Pawn.”
We are driving back from Detroit so I can get to work before 9am.  Hoping to get some sleep & family time in before heading out to Philly, NY & DC over the weekend to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Flyers, Giants & Redskins games!  
Thank you for your support!




Angelo Rodriguez is from Saginaw MI.  He Served in the army from 2001 to 2006.  Angelo was stationed in Italy with the 173rd 1/508 Airborne Infantry brigade for his first term and deployed to Iraq in 2003. Based out of Kirkuk Iraq. After his first deployment he was transferred to Ft. Lewis WA with the 1/5 infantry Stryker brigade where he went on his second tour to Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and was based out of Mosul.  Rodriguez shortly ETS out of the service with honors as an E-4 specialist.

Angelo currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama & recently enrolled to the university of Alabama under the post 911 bill.  He actually plays on the men’s wheelchair basketball team as an able body (a new program that allows people without a disability to be part of the team). Our Friend Shaun Castle, that we hosted in Buffalo on our 2013 mission, nominated Angelo because he is a “MASSIVE” Detroit Lions fan & he wanted to thank him for his service and wanted him to have the opportunity to experience his first ever Lions game!   It was an honor to make this Warrior Wish come true!



Cpl. Tyler Butler of East Liverpool, Ohio was a 2004 graduate of East Liverpool High School and was a member of the National Honor Society and choir. He also participated on the football and wrestling teams and was Division II Special Mention All-Ohio his senior year in football. A member of the Sons of the American Legion, he was also a member of the Glenmoor American Legion Post 736. He was a military police officer deployed to Iraq on June 26 and was to return on leave Sunday to meet his newborn son who was born January 23rd. Tyler was a dedicated soldier and a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. He was preceded in death by a paternal grandfather, Kenneth V. Butler Sr. He died at age 21 in Baghdad of injuries suffered from a vehicular accident. In September 2008, a memorial for Tyler was unveiled at the base of the flag at the Wal-mart parking lot in Calcutta during a 9/11 ceremony. In larger lettering, “In Memory Of CPL Kenneth Tyler Butler” is written on the bottom along with his December birth date and the February date in which he died in service.


It was an honor to host CPL Butler’s Wife & Son at the Game in his honor & keep his legacy alive!