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Family's Lions loyalty begins to pay off

Merrill family has huge collection of Detroit Lions memorabilia

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WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – In lean times, a collection of Lions memorabilia would seem as outdated and irrelevant as pet rocks and lava lamps.

But Gina Merrill's assortment of Honolulu blue and silver stuff seems fitting, as the team makes a rare playoff appearance.

A tour through her Waterford Township home reveals Lions wind chimes, bar stools, pasta, shot glasses, bobbleheads, tablecloths, Christmas ornaments, night lights, shower curtains, bed spreads, dice, a cue ball ... phew! That's just for starters.

"There have been tough times but I have never wavered," said Gina, who has been a Lions season ticket holder along with her husband, son and daughter since the late 1990s.

Outside, Gina and her family have painted a huge Lions logo on their garage. Ditto for a van used for tailgating.

Her daughter Nicole has Lions memorabilia throughout her bedroom.

"My mother used to tell me at the grocery store if I saw a Packers fan I should give them dirty looks," Nicole said.

Nicole promised last season she would get a Lions tattoo if her team won six games. A late season streak means the big blue cat is now on her back.

In turn, her mother promises to get a Lions tattoo if they make it as far as the Super Bowl.

"It's only going to get better," Gina said. "We have a young team. I'm excited for the future."