As the Detroit Lions are building a strong nucleus of young players, the tailgating scene in Detroit is ramping up for a Lions revival. The Suh Crew’s first tailgate was Week 1 of the 2010 season, in Chicago. It was also the NFL debut for the Crew’s namesake, dominant defensive tackle and 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year Ndamukong Suh. Dave Griffith and a friend went to Soldier Field with little more than some drinks and munchies. “We had no idea what was entailed in tailgating,” says Griffith. “The fans in Chicago are very serious about their tailgating and it gave us a lot of inspiration and ideas for what we use today.” What started with two people and a pop-up tent, the Suh Crew evolved into a much larger group by season’s end. A customized Lions Margaritaville tailgating grill, a griddle-q, a deep fryer, and an extensive menu were added as the season progressed.
The Suh Crew can always be found at the corner of Madison & Brush flying their Suh Crew logo some 25 feet into the sky, with a flashing blue beacon light on top. Since many Lions games start at noon local time, Griffith and friends start the tailgate with French toast, pancakes, bacon, and sausage on a BBQ griddle. The griddle is later removed to make way for more traditional grilling fare, and a deep fryer is called upon for turkey and chicken. In last year’s season finale, the Suh Crew was having such a good time post-game tailgating that they ended up staying a little too late. Griffith recalls, “We hung too long and were swarmed by homeless people who wanted all of our food and equipment.”
A highlight of any Lions season is their early Thanksgiving game. This year they’ll host the defending Super Bowl champion Packers. A special event this year will be October 10, when Detroit will host its first Monday Night Football game in 10 years. Griffith is still working on plans for that tailgate, specifically whether to stay overnight Sunday or just arrive Monday morning. “At the very least we’ll get there around 7 a.m. Monday morning and tailgate all day. That will easily be the most exciting tailgate in my lifetime, hands down.”
Griffith explains, “We definitely don’t claim to be experts. We are always learning and critiquing ourselves every week in order to get a better experience. Our motto: Fake it till you make it.” The Suh Crew is saving up for a party bus for next season, and the young pre-gaming group will continue looking for new ideas and for perfecting their craft. The future is indeed bright for both the Suh Crew and their beloved Lions.