In an extensive interview with Tim Twentyman for Detroitlions.com, published in three parts last week on the website (part 1 can be read here), Bill Ford Jr., Lions vice chairman, expressed his views on topics ranging from assessing the front office and head coach to how to keep a high-caliber group of players together to the renewed energy of the Lions fans.
In the process, Ford shared his own sense of his place with the organization. For example, he is an enthusiastic follower of the draft, but he said
he “learned long ago never to interject my opinion as a fan because that’s very dangerous to an organization. I’ve seen it done around the NFL and it usually doesn’t end well.”
In the wake of the 2012 North American International Auto Show, Ford was asked about parallels between the car industry and football. He replied that passion underscores people’s—he specified males here—vocal interest in one or the other topic. About Ford Field, he expressed exhilaration at the transformation of the stadium this year from a flat environment to one that is among the most difficult for opponents to play in.
I had started wondering what kind of football guy Ford is after reading a column in the Free Press by business writer Tom Walsh titled “Bill Ford Jr. Dishes on Lions.” In it, Ford talks about seeing Lions fans on Bourbon Street in New Orleans prior to the first-round NFC playoff game with the Saints, and he gives a brief assessment of the team. The responses were pretty light fare, not surprising considering he was chatting with the media following a Business Leaders for Michigan event. Still, I didn’t have a pulse on this guy.
Thanks to Twentyman’s series of articles, now I do. I considered whether the Twentyman interview was a PR move to help Ford refine his football presence in the city. But it doesn’t really matter. Twentyman carries Ford through the interview with skill, and the resulting articles reveal a Bill Ford Jr. who is almost boyish in his enthusiasm and support for the Lions. I believe him when he says he’s a huge football fan and a student of the game. Ford’s sense of place with the Lions should serve the organization well into the future.