By: Will Burchfield
Justin Verlander has spent his entire professional career in Detroit. He may well be the city’s most decorated active athlete.
And he takes pride in representing and supporting a place he calls home.
When the Lions selected Jarrad Davis in the first round of last week’s NFL Draft, Verlander welcomed Davis to town via Twitter.
Asked about it on Monday, Verlander dismissed the idea that he is an ambassador for Detroit sports. To him, it was just a friendly way of reaching out to someone who can further boost the city’s profile.
“Just saying welcome. I know he’s excited to get his professional career started and I know the whole city of Detroit’s was kind of standing by, watching who we were going to draft. So it was a good time to say hello and welcome,” Verlander said. “I think he’ll enjoy it here.”
Verlander’s fans quickly took notice, commending the longtime Tiger for being such a loyal backer of Detroit.
“I’m a fan of this city and I support as much as I can, more than just sports. I support everything that I can and just try to bring notice to what’s happening in this city,” said Verlander, who was drafted by the Tigers in 2004 and made his debut a year later. “I don’t know if I could have envisioned that 12 years ago, but 12 years later here I am.”
Verlander has seen Detroit change drastically during his time as a Tiger. A downtown renaissance has boosted the city’s reputation, but Verlander feels it still gets a bad rap.
“I think it still can, I think it happens a lot,” he said.
And he’d like to see that change.
“I think getting people in this city is important because I’ve had a lot of people mention to me, whether they’re coming to visit me or just coming to visit the city of Detroit for the first time, they’re shocked as to what they’ve heard compared to what it’s turned into now,” Verlander explained.
“A lot of that goes to the Mr. Ilitches of the world, the Dan Gilberts of the world, the Ford family,” he added. “Everybody has had a hand in rebuilding this city and I think it’s to the point now where people need to come see it and come experience it. There’s a lot of good things happening here.”