DETROIT — Michigan sports reporter Tom Kowalski, who was a fixture on the Detroit Lions beat for many years, died Monday. He was 51.
Kowalski's employer, Booth Newspapers, reported he was found unresponsive Monday morning by his fiancée Diane Wolan. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital in Oakland County's Commerce Township.
Kowalski started his Lions reporting in 1978 at The Oakland Press, and one of his biggest stories was the 1982 Super Bowl in Pontiac, Mich. He joined Booth in 1997 and later became one of MLive.com's most-read reporters.
He also co-hosted a statewide sports talk show on WDFN-AM in Detroit and regularly appeared on Fox affiliate WJBK-TV.
Co-worker Ansar Khan said Kowalski knew the Lions "inside and out" and "had an incredible work ethic."
During a meeting Monday with reporters, Lions coach Jim Schwartz was emotional and had the TV cameras turned off while he talked about Kowalski. He said since Kowalski always asked the first question, he called for a moment of silence in its place.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family, and we consider ourselves part of both of those," Schwartz said. "When it came to Tom, the one thing he always tried to do is get it right. He knew football, and he always tried to get it right. I have a lot of respect for that."
Lions President Tom Lewand said Kowalski "was a true professional" and "consummate beat writer."
"Even in times of disagreement, we always had the utmost respect for his professionalism," he said.