By Will Burchfield
Midway through the Lions' 26-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday came a reminder that it was merely a game.
Honoring our country's veterans can have that effect.
On Salute to Service Day at Ford Field, U.S. Army Sergeant Jarrett Zimmer of Grand Rapids was presented with the Purple Heart. Upon the announcement of the award, the fans and players rose as one and gave Sgt. Zimmer a standing ovation.
It was a moment that stuck with Jim Caldwell, who brought it up at his Monday afternoon press conference.
"I just think overall, our fans have a great understanding of the game in itself and probably what was unique about the other night was when they were honoring the military personnel. I just thought that the way our fans reacted, the way our players also certainly took part in it, it was a pretty unique experience in our stadium," Caldwell said.
Earlier in the game, the Lions recognized Earl Roberts, a 95-year-old World War II veteran, as their honorary captain.
The positive vibes at Ford Field on Sunday have Caldwell excited for what's to come this Thursday, when the Lions take on the Minnesota Vikings in arguably the biggest Thanksgiving game in franchise history.
"Number one, Thanksgiving Day games are really special here. There's no question about that and I think that our fans have been absolutely outstanding. They were great the other night," Caldwell said. "It's always a challenge to come in here and play because of the fact that they will certainly give you some difficulty operating at the line of scrimmage.
"I think a lot happens at home that certainly gives us a lot of energy, but like I said before, you've got to play well no matter where you are. No matter who you're playing, no matter what the situation might be, you've got to play well in order to win."
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