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Thursday, June 25, 2009
Black and Blue all over: Ford speaks

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Detroit owner William Clay Ford spoke publicly for the first time since the team began its post-Matt Millen overhaul last fall. Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press provides a handy transcript of the session's highlights.

Two things stood out to me the most:

  1. Ford confirmed he has settled a dispute with Millen on the apparent buyout of his contract.
  2. He admitted that commissioner Roger Goodell offered advice and suggestions for replacing Millen. Instead, Ford promoted two internal candidates to fill the role: General manager Martin Mayhew and team president Tom Lewand.

Ford said Goodell initiated the discussion and they had "three or four conversations" about the jobs.

Ford: "Yes. He offered any help that he could. He was great about it. I said, 'Well, I could use all the help I can get. I'm certainly not going to turn my back on you or anybody.' Then he mentioned a few names, and I investigated those. He couldn't have been nicer about it or really more helpful."

Ford was asked whether he looked into the names Goodell provided.

Ford: "I did check into it, and nothing against any of his suggestions, but I felt I had the right combination here. So why go through the agony of bringing somebody totally new in that to learn what everything was about here? As long as it was in place, I didn't have any problem with it."

To me, it's interesting and not entirely typical for Goodell to insert himself into a process at that level, unsolicited. No doubt, the commissioner thought the Lions could use some help in forging their new path. As has been his policy for most of his tenure, Ford followed his own road.

I don't have anything in particular to nitpick about the job Mayhew and Lewand have done thus far. But it's only natural to question whether the team is headed in a better direction when its essentially under incumbent leadership.

Continuing around the NFC North: