(DETROIT, MI) -- New Lions head coach Steve Mariucci pointed to the phone call and visit he had with Ford Motor Company chairman and Lions vice-chairman Bill Ford, Jr. as having played a key role in his decision to accept the offer to join the Detroit organization.
But to hear him tell it, Ford Jr. says he doesn't have much to do with the day-to-day operations of the Detroit Lions. "Well, I really don't have much of a role," said Ford, Jr. "Matt's the CEO, he's running it. I've got a day job that keeps me pretty busy, but I just want to make sure that the big decisions are made well. But this was his [Millens] call and I agree with it completely and obviously my father does too."
What about Mariucci's remarks that the visit with Ford played a large role in his decision?
"Well, Matt [Millen] asked if I would call him just to say that there really was an interest, because there were other teams that we knew were after him. That was clearly the case right until yesterday. Obviously a guy of Mariucci's caliber and reputation is going to get interest around the league. He did get a lot of interest."
It is thought that both Seattle and Chicago were calling to gauge Mariucci's interest in perhaps joining their organization in roles other than head coach. Ford was optimistic that Mariucci's presence would help turn around the Lions floundering organization.
"Obviously you go into this thinking this is what you need. There are certainly no guarantees in life, but everything that Steve has going for him, in terms of his background, the way he's well organized and really his ability to relate to players -- which is well known around the league -- I think for all those reasons he'll be very good here."
Is there finally light at the end of the tunnel?
"The first kickoff is in September and well see. That's just the nature of this business. Some people say 'well, you shouldn't get to "up" today' because the reality of September will be upon us soon'. Well that's true. On the other hand, I think this is a very positive step for this organization. Steve is the right guy. He very much wants to be here and I think the players, as they get to know Steve, will be quite taken by his style."