ORLANDO -- Only a few days following the passing of his father -- Detroit Lions owner and Chairman William Clay Ford -- Lions vice chairman Bill Ford spent time in Allen Park with receiver
After Tate signed a five-year, $31 million contract with the team later that day, he told reporters during his introductory press conference that the time spent with Bill Ford went a long way to him choosing to play in Detroit.
“I thought it was important,” Bill Ford told beat reporters at the NFL Annual Meetings today about his time spent with Tate. “I wanted to welcome him to Detroit. I wanted him to know how committed our franchise is and our family is to the franchise and also the opportunities for him to play a role in the community of Detroit.”
It’s something Bill Ford has done in the past with other free agents; it just hasn't been publically talked about a lot of times in the past.
There have been question marks since the passing of Mr. Ford on how Bill Ford’s role as vice chairman might evolve, but he says not a whole lot will change.
“Nothing has really changed,” he said. “(The team) is still in our family. My mother is the primary owner now and I’m vice chairman and it’s all pretty much the same as it always was.”
Bill Ford is expected to be more involved moving forward, however.
“It’s really not too radical,” he said of how his job as vice chairman will evolve. “I always felt that ownership at all levels is really there to provide support to an organization, whether it’s my father or my mother or it’s me or anyone else.
“It’s to put the resources in place, hire the best people, make sure they’re well supported and then do reviews on performance and make sure they are all held to a high standard, and that won’t change.
The Ford Family has always taken a hands-off approach to ownership; letting the football minds they put in place handle that aspect of the organization. That won’t change, according to Bill Ford.
“There are different ownership models around the league,” he said. “I’ve never felt that a terribly hands-on model would fit our organization well.”