- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Detroit Lions reporter
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In rare public comments Tuesday at a charity dinner honoring Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson, Ford referred to the Bears as "thugs."
In a question-and-answer session at Ford Field toward the end of the dinner, Ford was asked about the atmosphere surrounding the Lions' 40-32 win over Chicago on Sunday. He was enthusiastic.
Then he talked about the Bears.
"It was really alive, and it was alive when we played those same bunch of thugs on Monday night, you know, last year," Ford said, actually referring to the 2011 "Monday Night Football" game between the teams. "When this place gets going, it's electric. We do have wonderful fans; our fans are amazing.
"We would love to take it back and bring home a winner. I love the way this team is playing right now."
The crowd in attendance laughed at Ford's comments.
After his 15-minute Q&A session ended, Ford ducked behind a curtain and did not speak with reporters.
A Lions spokesman, however, called to inform the media that Ford was "joking" about insulting the Bears.
Ford had kinder words about Detroit's opponent this weekend -- the Green Bay Packers.
"Green Bay's special, and Lambeau Field, there's a special feeling going into Lambeau," Ford said. "Always has been. I hate going up there, but when we win this week, it's going to make it feel a heck of a lot better."
The Lions have not won in Green Bay or Milwaukee since 1991.
Detroit Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. might have just added another layer to an already-intense rivalry with the Chicago Bears.