WASHINGTON -- Detroit Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. said Monday that his role with the NFL team has taken a back seat to his duties as Ford Motor Co. chairman. It might be just as well.
Ford was in Washington to meet with President Barack Obama and submit to the Commerce Department a list of recommendations, developed at a Detroit business summit, on ways to revitalize the economy.
Asked to assess the Lions, Ford said shoring up the automaker's finances and market share over the past two years have been "all encompassing." Detroit in 2008 became the first NFL team to go 0-16 and is 2-11 this season.
"I've spent almost no time with the Lions, and I really don't have an active role there. I just don't," said Ford, whose father, William Clay Ford, has owned the team since 1964. "Everything we're talking about now has been absorbing me, and it was a decision that I made, that I had to see Ford through this time.
"So I'm quite out of touch actually with what's going there," said Ford Jr., who has been the Lions' vice chairman since 1995.
The younger Ford did speak out about the Lions after they dropped their third game of the 2008 season. Speaking to reporters after a Detroit Economic Club meeting, he said he was disappointed in the team's performance and that fans deserve better.
Ford said then that team president Matt Millen should leave the team, but he didn't have the authority to make such a change. Two days later, his father fired Millen, whose Detroit teams were an NFL-worst 31-84 during his tenure.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press