(ALLEN PARK) Scratch NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue from William Clay Ford, Sr. x-mas list.
In a carefully orchestrated press opportunity, Ford Sr., owner of the Detroit Lions sent a shot across the bow at NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue for his $200,000 fine of Lions president and general manager Matt Millen.
"I think it is a shame and totally unwarranted," Ford said at the Lions afternoon training camp session. "I've lost a lot of respect for the commissioner because of the way he has handled this. He has made a scapegoat out of the Detroit Lions, and I think the timing showed that. He waited six months, then nailed us on the eve of camp opening when attention would be on us.
"They've got a lot of nerve to point the finger at us."
When asked how the Commissioner explained his action, Ford Sr. became agitated.
"I just kept getting madder and madder until I hung up on him. I was just getting the usual legalese double-talk. He really couldn't argue with any of my points."
But when asked if the team would consider appealing the league's stiff fine, Ford, Sr. responded, "I've got an open mind about that.
"We are going to explore our options, but I have the feeling that it is a 'fait
Ford was asked whether the open rift between his family and league officials might result in the loss of the annual Thanksgiving day game, something close to the heart of the Lions owner.
"Oh, I hope not, I mean,'Good Lord'" Sr. exclaimed, "Who knows what he'll do but I wouldn't even want to think about that."