Black and Blue all over: Ford Jr. is a hero


Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Perhaps this is my Detroit Lions naiveté surfacing, but I'm surprised no one is even mildly chiding Detroit vice chairman Bill Ford, Jr., for publicizing his dissent with the way his father runs the team.

Because, in essence, that's what Ford Jr. did Monday when he told reporters he would fire president/CEO/general manager Matt Millen if he had the authority. He doesn't, of course. That responsibility remains with his father, William Clay Ford, who hasn't listened to his son's advice.

Yes, it was a breath of fresh air to hear a Ford acknowledge the mistake Millen has been. And we in the media always appreciate the truth. But it hardly promotes respect for the chain of command, an essential tenet for an NFL team and any other corporation. Is this no different than an assistant coach publicly questioning the head coach's play-calling?

I suspect Millen fatigue is so intense these days that it supersedes all other problems. As Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News writes: "Nothing can move forward with this team until the main guy is held accountable. The Lions are paralyzed and poisoned by Millen's presence, by his stunning incompetence, and he has to know it."

Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press suggests Ford Jr.'s comments could give Millen an opening to resign and save at least a minimal amount of public respect: "If Millen is so fond of [William Clay Ford], how can he let himself be the wedge between Senior and Junior? I don't see how he can rationalize that to himself."

And, as Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com writes, Ford Jr.'s comments came too early to wait until after the season to address them: "Ford can't allow the dark cloud to hang over this organization for the rest of the season."

As of Tuesday morning, there were no indications the Lions were planning any changes. Firing Millen or accepting his resignation now wouldn't do much to save the season, but it would give the team a head-start on hiring their next leader.

The Lions have a bye this weekend and the timing is right. But after Ford Jr. took the extraordinary route of placing public pressure on his own father, his father could be more dug in than ever.

Elsewhere in less controversial regions of the NFC North:

  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines whether the career of Green Bay cornerback Al Harris could be over because of a ruptured spleen. If Harris ultimately has his spleen removed, "a return would be less likely," Silverstein reports.

  • The Packers aren't thrilled with the inconsistency of new punter Derrick Frost, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "He needs to do a better job, there's no doubt about that," coach Mike McCarthy said.

  • Tampa Bay offensive lineman Jeremy Trueblood accused unnamed Chicago defenders of grabbing his genitals during Sunday's game at Soldier Field. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris didn't deny it, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. Asked if it was possible someone on the Bears did it, Harris said: "Yeah, the same way my junk got grabbed during the game. That happens, so guard your junk." Hmmmm.

  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune thinks coach Lovie Smith should give his laid-back style a "mini-makeover" and get after a few of his players publicly.

  • Minnesota has benched starting fullback Thomas Tapeh, whom they signed to a five-year contract on the first day of free agency. In his place is third-year player Naufahu Tahi, writes Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

  • The Vikings have the NFL's worst touchdown percentage in the red zone, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune. The Tennessee Titans, their opponent Sunday, have the best.