Ford Jr. Ready to See Lions Win

Lions vice chairman believes Marinelli is "forming" a winning franchise.

After practice one day at training camp, Lions vice chairman addressed the team briefly -- something usually done by his father, owner William Clay Ford. He received a round of applause from the players.

According to a couple of veterans, Ford Jr. pointed out how the Lions had build Ford Field and a state-of-the-art practice facility, how they had hired coach Rod Marinelli and brought in Marinelli's type of guys, and now it was time to see results.

"They don't want to win," left tackle Jeff Backus said. "They expect to win."

That echoed comments Ford Jr. made to reporters a few days before.

"This is not the time for a lot of hype," Ford Jr. said. "It's a time to actually go out and prove it."

What does he mean by prove it?

"We've got to win," Ford Jr. said. "That's the name of the game. I think that the expectations for this team are that they will win.

"Otherwise you might as well ... You have to go into each season believing that you're going to win, and winning the championship is the goal. And it has to be the goal. And Rod absolutely believes that and believes that we'll contend for it."

Ford Jr. is well aware of the frustration and skepticism of fans who have seen seven consecutive losing seasons.

"I think ultimately, though, it will depend on how the team is doing," Ford. Jr. said. "If we get off to a good start and we're playing exciting football, the fans I think will get behind us. And if we don't, then ... then they won't."

Asked if it was frustrating that it took Marinelli three years to get the roster the way he wanted, Ford Jr. said: "I've been frustrated with the team for several years, so yes. I've been extremely frustrated and disappointed -- not in Rod, but in the performance of the team. But I have great faith in Rod."

Ford Jr. declined to comment about Millen, as he mostly did during the NFL owners' meetings in April. He also declined to speculate about what would happen if the Lions don't make the playoffs this season.

"I'm not getting into that," Ford Jr. said. "I'm not getting into any kind of what-ifs and end of the year. That'll sort itself out at the end of the year.

What gives Ford Jr. hope?

"Because football is ultimately a team game, and the difference in talent between teams in the NFL is not very large," Ford said. "And typically, at least over the years that I've seen it, the teams that do well are truly well-integrated teams that have been together a while and understand what they're doing as a team, and I think Rod is forming that now.

"And that's what gives me hope, is that we really have, it appears, all the coaches and all the players on the same page, buying into Rod's program. I believe that gives me real faith as we go into this season.

"We haven't had that in the past. We've had some talented players, but they often were either selfish or didn't buy into whatever the coaching staff was espousing. ...

"I feel very good about our coach, and I think I've probably made that clear. Because I feel good about the coach, I feel good about the fact that he has the kind of players that he feels he can win with."

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