Detroit Lions players, coaches and administrators headed down to Ford Field Wednesday to take part in the 14th annual Detroit Lions Kickoff Luncheon presented by the Wisne Family and hosted by the Detroit Economic Club.
More than 1,000 fans filled the Ford Field atrium for the event, sitting with players and coaches and listening to addresses from Ford, General Manager Martin Mayhew and Head Coach Jim Schwartz.
“I’m really proud of what Martin and Jim have done with this team in a short period of time,” said Ford. “They have worked incredibly hard to get us better and I can’t wait for this season to begin. I think the buzz around this team this year and around this city is as loud as I’ve heard it in many years and I think it’s for good reason.
“I’d like to thank all of you, all of the fans for sticking with us through a tough period with the team at a tough economic time in this city. So thank you to every one of you for staying with us.”
Mayhew also addressed the direction of the team.
“There is a lot of buzz about what’s going on and what’s different and what’s happening with the Lions,” Mayhew said to the fans.
“I’d (like to) point to the commitment from our ownership, from Bill and from Mr. Ford. They have committed to this organization everything, and have really trusted Jim and I to make the right decisions and have given us support every step along the way.”
Mayhew pointed to the fact that he and Schwartz are on the same page in regards to the building process of this team.
“I’ve been here 10 years (and this is the first time) that we’ve actually been on the same page in terms of the coach, front office, coaching staff, everybody working together, everybody pulling the same direction,” said Mayhew.
“That really is the difference. That’s what’s going to put us over the top, those three things. The hard work that we put in, the commitment from our ownership, and being on the same page.”
Schwartz agreed with Mayhew regarding bringing a winner to Detroit.
He cited the productive training camp the Detroit Lions have had, attributing it to the responsibility they feel to win for this city.
“We feel that responsibility to the players and the staff, but I can speak on behalf of every player here that we feel that responsibility to the city,” he said. “We are going to work incredibly hard and we’re going to do the right things and we’re going to have a team that you can be proud of and that you can cheer for.
“We’re going to have a banquet here rather than at the beginning season; we are going to have a banquet here at the end of the season.”
In addition to his words to the fans, Schwartz answered questions submitted by the fans themselves.
He received one question regarding the role of the fans during home games at Ford Field.
“It’s huge,” he said. “I’ve been a fan of a lot of teams since I was a kid and I’ve experienced some of the same things that people in Detroit have experienced. So many times you put yourself out as a fan and you get your heart broken. And every time you get your heart broken, you tend to put yourself out there a little bit less.
“It’s okay to come back. It’s okay to root for this team. It’s okay to cheer touchdowns and to celebrate when a player’s spiking a ball or getting excited, because we are one and the same. We are going to feed off of you and you can feed off of us.”
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