Detroit Lions vice chairman Bill Ford doesn't speak often, so folks in Detroit pay close attention when he does talk. Especially when he starts calling the division rival Chicago Bears, who the Lions put away 40-32 in Week 4, "a bunch of thugs."
"It was really alive," Ford said of the home crowd last week. "And it was alive when we played those same bunch of thugs on Monday night a couple (years ago).
"When this place gets going, it's electric and we do have wonderful fans. Our fans are amazing, and we would love to pay them back and bring home a winner, and I love the way this team is playing right now."
The audience laughed at the remark, and a Lions spokesperson later called the Detroit Free Press to say that Ford was joking with his thug comment. The newspaper had copy of the audio, and it sounded like an innocuous comment served to get a partisan crowd excited. The quote comes a few days after Lions coach Jim Schwartz took offense to a late hit by Bears linebacker Jon Bostic.
With that said, "thug" is a loaded word in 2013, and the comments came at a public event. If a Lions coach or player called the Bears a "bunch of thugs," it would attract unwanted attention in Detroit, much like the Lions' string of arrests in 2012.