Friday, September 23, 2005

He's In, Whether You Like It Or Not: Bill Ford & The Michigan Sports Hall of Fame

It's a question that Drew Sharp of the Free Press handled straight on in his column yesterday -- namely, is Lions owner Bill Ford worthy of being inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame?

The copout answer is, "So what if he isn't? He's inducted anyway." The ceremony was last night at Cobo Arena.

But if you want to just toss up your hands as angry Lions fans and say, "Where are my Super Bowl rings?," then you probably won't agree that Ford should be enshrined, no matter how much convincing I do.

Yet there are dozens of inductees who never won a championship in their respective sports, so you can pretty much kiss that reason for an excuse goodbye.

Bill Ford's achievements, as outlined by Sharp, merit consideration because as much as fans aren't going to care about this, Ford has made the Lions franchise one of the most well-respected in the NFL. Noooo, I don't mean in terms of wins & losses and Super Bowl appearances. Rather, among the league's insiders -- fellow owners, league management, players and coaches -- Bill Ford and his niceness and loyalty and his longevity (over 40 years of ownership), plus the beauty of Ford Field, put the Lions, whether you choose to believe it or not, near the top of the heap in the NFL.

And, as Sharp pointed out, Ford managed to get the league to come to Detroit not once, but twice for the Super Bowl, no easy feat due to our northern geography. In fact, this year's XL might be even more impressive, considering it was about 500 degrees below zero with snow all over the place when the Big One came to Pontiac in 1982. We could fib the first time (which we did -- about the weather and hotel room availability) to land a Super Bowl, but not twice. So this year's game was a sell job, a full court press spearheaded by Ford.

Also, in making the Lions so well-respected, Ford hasn't done it on the cheap. He hasn't been afraid to spend money on coaches, players or facilities -- he just hasn't always spent it wisely. He hasn't found, for one reason or another, the proper formula for consistent winning in the NFL.

So all of you Ford-bashers, I know what YOUR view probably is: Keep the bum out! But I, too have been critical of Ford at times. I thought he kept Wayne Fontes one season too long, for example (although we made the playoffs in those days). Still, when you look at Drew Sharp's column, and the sidebar that lists his acheievements versus his hiccups, I would hope you can honestly say, "Yeah -- this is a worthy inductee to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame."

And even if you don't, he's in there anyway. So pay a visit to the Hall and yell at his plaque, I guess.

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