There wasn't an opening question to Lions coach Jim Schwartz's press conference today.
The Den commnuity frequently referenced Kowalski's mlive.com material. Below are responses from some users ...
"You know, I don't know how religious I am or everyone here is, but maybe after putting in 30 years toiling on the job, God said 'You know what Tom, you've done your work and this is the year, just sit back and enjoy without the hassle of meeting a deadline.' " - chriskzoo
"Killer seemed like a guy I'd like to sit in the bar with, talk about the Lions, and have a beer. He was far too young to die." - lionsbloodNW
"I think he'd get a kick that he's trending on twitter." - deadstroke
"This may be the big turnaround year he so consistently leaned on in almost every article." - LIONSMANIAC
"He was as passionate as any of us when it came to the Lions and was never afraid to say what he felt. We lost a good friend, a good source and and a great fan. My prayers are with him and his family. And we will all miss his articles very much." - tcmouse
"Killer was such a big part of being a Lions fan it just pains me to think that his unbiased reporting is gone. If he had an agenda he never made it public and never let it override his reporting the facts." - devilsrighthand
"Your dedication to the Lions was unmatched, I fully expect you to now be standing in front of God petitioning Him towards mercy for the Lions Fans. All humor aside, I feel a loss of someone whom I respected greatly." - VanZant
The intentional omission of that question -- a dedicated moment of silence -- didn't loom nearly as large as the absence of Tom Kowalski, who passed away this morning at his home. He was 51 years old.
A man affectionately nicknamed 'Killer,' the longtime Booth Newspaper beat writer was synonymous with his topic: the Detroit Lions. Kowalski covered the Lions for three decades, and became one of the first NFL writers to successfully straddle the demands of exhaustive reporting and online readership interaction.
It was on that platform that those affected by Kowalski's passing, including anyone affiliated with Detroit Lions football, the NFL and especially his vast readership base, shared their condolences. In a reversal of roles, it was the Lions family that so diligently and respectfully recounted Kowalski's many exploits.
Wrote mlive.com producer Bill Emkow, "He is the first reporter that bought into what we were doing with MLive.com. I needed someone to buy into what we were doing online, and he was the huge star for Booth."
Emkow later told roarreport.com, "He was always ready for the future of journalism and story telling."
Kowalski wasn't simply an early adopter of the now commonplace concept of interweaving opinions and reports within the online community, he thrived in it. Never shy of offering his thoughts, the effervescent Kowalski might not have been a household name -- but it was certainly webhold.
Kowalski's approachable demeanor, which shined and never let-up through the development and rigors of the digital world (he was an avid Twitter user and regularly interacted with his readers), clearly reflected his passion for his subject and people in general. It's also what ultimately made him the benchmark of not only Lions-related online covearge, but digital reporting with a personality.
Simply put, no one did it better.
Maybe it was fitting that Kowalski was among the top nationally trending topics on Twitter on Monday, a status usually reserved for celebrities and national headlines.
Lions pay tribute
Beyond Schwartz's tribute, the Lions also paid heed to Kowalski's professionalism. Said team president Tom Lewand in a team release, "Tom was a true professional, the consummate beat writer, somebody who brought a lot of tremendous information to our fans — even in times of disagreement; we always had the utmost respect for his professionalism."
The impact of Kowalski's death was felt throughout the Detroit Lions family.
"On behalf of the team, we consider him part of the family; we saw him every day,” said center Dominic Raiola. “I dealt with Tom every day. I’d see him out here. (It will) take a lot of time to get over this."
Tweeted fellow reporter and Detroit News writer John Niyo, "Pretty sure today's the first time I've cried at work. Tom Kowalski would've never let me hear the end of that. He is already missed."
Kowalski's last words were also via Twitter, in which he tweeted -- in classic Killer fashion -- a quote from the movie The Princess Bride.
"OK fellas, here we go ... Sleep well, I'll most likely kill you in the morning."