How Taylor Decker retrieved the ball from his first-ever TD catch

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The power of social media reconnected Detroit Lions offensive tackle Taylor Decker with his discarded-into-the-Ford-Field-stands football from his first-ever touchdown two weeks ago against the Los Angeles Rams.

It is sitting on the windowsill in his Detroit-area home for now -- he's not sure exactly what he's going to do with it -- but he's glad that it finally returned to him after he tossed it away spontaneously. And it wasn't too complicated a process for him to get it back.

Soon after the Lions' 30-16 loss on Dec. 2, Decker took to Instagram and Twitter in search of the ball, his first touchdown on any level of football. About 45 minutes later, he said, he heard from the man who caught the ball.

"I got a bunch of DMs of people saying that they knew who it was and pictures of the guy," Decker said. "Then that guy made a Twitter and he sent me a picture of the ball and his ticket because everyone was telling me what row and section he was.

"I'm like, ‘All right, there he is. That's the guy.' It was pretty easy."

Decker then went through the short process of verifying the ball was legitimate. The man, whom Decker declined to name but who a story from the man's hometown newspaper said is Bill Zerbst, sent Decker a picture of his ticket to the game and a picture of the ball guarded by his baby.

Decker also went to the Lions' equipment staff, asking how he could verify it.

"They were like, ‘Well, the officials mark on all of them,'" Decker said.

The ball, labeled No. 1 according to Decker, corresponded with the markings the equipment people gave Decker, so he knew it was legitimate. There was also a secondary code, which Decker didn't remember, that also matched up.

Then he sent Zerbst a prepaid box to send the ball in and paid for all the shipping so he could retrieve it. Decker declined to say what he and Zerbst agreed upon for Decker to get the ball back, but the third-year pro said he was going to make sure Zerbst was well taken care of.

A week later, Decker saw Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake do the same thing after he scored to beat New England on the final play. He empathized.

"I was like, ‘Been there. Been there,'" Decker said. "It was funny. Everybody was like, ‘Why would you throw it if you wanted to keep it?'

"I'm like, people say, 'Act like you've been there before.' I hadn't."

Decker said that he hasn't lobbied for more receptions since his one catch and that if he ever scores another touchdown, he doesn't know what he'll do. But TD No. 1, that's safely back in his hands once again.