Behind The Scenes

Detroit’s pride showing on ‘MNF’

Lomas Brown believes in his Detroit Lions.

Lomas Brown has lived in the Detroit area for more than 25 years, and the former Lions star has rarely seen Motown more electric than it is now.

Detroit has reason to be proud: The Lions are 4-0 and hosts to a Monday Night Football game for the first time in 10 years as the Chicago Bears visit tonight (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

At nearby Comerica Park, the Detroit Tigers will welcome American League Championship Games 3 and 4 against the Texas Rangers this week.

“The liveliest I’ve seen this city before [this] was ’06, when Seattle and Pittsburgh were in the Super Bowl [XL, at Ford Field],” said Brown, an NFL analyst for ESPN’s First Take and various other programs. “When things like this are going on, it’s so different from the blight and all the things everybody knows about Detroit.

“We put on a pretty good party.”

An outstanding offensive tackle, Brown played 11 seasons with the Lions (1985-95), was a seven-time Pro Bowl pick and finished his NFL career winning a Super Bowl title in 2003 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The next year, he joined ESPN as an analyst. With the Lions’ traditional history of failure — an 0-16 season in 2008, 2-14 in 2009 and 11 seasons without a playoff berth — Brown has struggled to get much ESPN air time for his former team.

Now, with the Lions winning their first four games, sometimes in stirring fashion, Brown finds himself in demand to discuss the “Honolulu Blue and Silver.”

Last Thursday and Friday, Brown was scheduled to appear on the 3 p.m. ET SportsCenter both days, as well as the 6 p.m. ET edition Friday evening. The affable Brown also was slated to be a SportsNation guest — and that’s not counting his First Take duties.

“I’ve been with the company, this will be my seventh year. I’d bring up the Lions [to ESPN show producers] and they’d look at me like, ‘Man, what are you talking about?’

“I used to get some of the dirtiest looks,” Brown said, chuckling. “Now, I’ve got people coming up to me talking about ”How about the Lions? That’s who we’re going to lead the show off with.’

“Never before has it been like that in the seven years I’ve been around here.”

Why are the Lions, off to their best start since 1980, suddenly successful?

“The biggest difference to me is they’ve learned how to finish games,” said Brown of coach Jim Schwartz’ team, which has authored incredible road comeback victories over the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys. “And they’re holding each other accountable. The veteran guys are holding guys accountable. They’re not waiting for coaches to hold guys accountable.”

Besides his ESPN duties, Brown is an analyst on Sunday nights in the Detroit area on Sports Final Edition on WDIV-Channel 4.

So where is the seven-time Pro Bowl selection going to be tonight as MNF returns to the Detroit area for the first time since 2001?

As much as he’d like to be at Ford Field, Brown might just stay home and watch his ESPN colleagues’ handiwork.

“I’m a fan of football, I’m a fan of the Lions,” he said. “Sometimes you just want to stay home and watch it in peace.”

To follow the 2011 ESPN Monday Night Football season, embed this handy Google calendar.

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