William Clay Ford Sr said that in the past, he had relied on others to make some of those decisions for him. That information was revealed when Ford was asked why fans should believe the Lions will be different now.
“Well, this is going to sound a little egotistical, and maybe it is, but because this was solely my decision, rather than being influenced by a lot of other thoughts and people who — I respected their opinions — but they were not exactly the same as mine, which is fine. But they influenced the decisions that were finally made. If Jim Schwartz doesn’t work out, you can blame me 100 percent. I just have confidence in him,” Ford said.
When it came to hiring the coach, Ford said he already had decided it would be Schwartz, but also got the input from Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand. All three agreed it should be Schwartz — a consensus rarely reached in recent years.
“It wasn’t … not bicker, but arguments that we might have had in the past — if that’s the right word. Maybe it’s a little strong, but it was a difference of opinion that we’d had in the past. This was 100 percent from everybody,” Ford said. “Long before I had given my opinion, I asked for their thoughts and I happened to agree with all of them. And anybody who agrees with you is a genius.”
Ford was hesitant to say he would have overruled Mayhew and Lewand if they had wanted another head coach, but Ford appeared adamant about who would get the job.
“We would’ve had a long discussion,” said Ford, adding he was determined to make his own calls this time around. “I suppose in the back of mind, yeah. Because we’d gone wrong in the past and some of the hirings and firings I wasn’t too crazy about.”
What asked about the hirings of former coaches Steve Mariucci and Rod Marinelli, Ford said, “I guess you could say that, yeah. I didn’t know their backgrounds particularly and, again, I relied on Matt (Millen) and others for their opinions. The decision wasn’t mine. I’m not saying I was against it.”
Ford also replied as to how he has taken the personal criticism because of the Lions’ failures on the field for all the years that he he has owned the team.
“By and large, you pay attention to it,” he said. “If there’s a noticeable decline in attendance and the comments are not favorable, you pay attention to it. As I’ve said, the fans are the ones we want to please out here. Especially now with Detroit in the shape it’s in, we’ve got to try twice as hard to give them their money’s worth. Money is tough to come by for all of them, I understand that. The least we can do is put on a good performance for them, and I think we will. I certainly hope we will.”
Ford said he doesn’t worry about his legacy, and he knows that he is ultimately responsible for the teams failures and he very much wants to win.
“I want it, I can promise you that,” Ford said. “Starting with Jim and on out, as far as my livelihood goes, I’m going to shoulder the responsibility for any mistakes we made. I don’t mean every play or stuff like that, but if things go sour and the fans turn against us, I’ve got nobody to blame but me, and I’m aware of that. That’s a nice challenge to have. I’m going to try to keep them happy in bad times.”