Lions cap big night, present Ford family with game ball

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Lions were sure to pay tribute to their 50-year owner William Clay Ford Sr. before the game. With a victory, though, the players made the night a little more special for Ford’s family.

After a 35-14 victory over the New York Giants on Monday night, coach Jim Caldwell presented Martha Firestone Ford, now the owner and chairwoman since her husband died in March, and her four children with the game ball.

“We just felt it was kind of to honor Mr. Ford in his passing, and the guys certainly wanted to go out and do a great job for the family,” Caldwell said. “So we presented a game ball to Mrs. Ford and her children because of the way in which they support us, and obviously they do a tremendous job in operating this organization.”

In the locker room, Firestone Ford even broke down the huddle by saying, “Lions on 3: 1, 2, 3, Lions!”

Linebacker DeAndre Levy said it was good to see her smile and be a part of the team.

“It was a good moment,” Levy said. “I mean, (Mr.) Ford has meant so much to us, and she was right there with us, able to kind of keep him here in spirit with us.”

Before the game, the Ford family was on the field for a tribute led by actor and Michigan native Jeff Daniels. Lions players from the five decades during which Ford owned the team were also on the field — Joe Schmidt, Charlie Sanders, Doug English, Barry Sanders and Jason Hanson.

There was also a tribute video on the Jumbotron that closed with the message, “Forward Down the Field.”

“Obviously, we didn’t get to see the video with everybody, but we got to see it a couple days ago as a team,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “And I know, talking to (Dominic Raiola) and myself, it kind of brought chills to you.

“It was pretty awesome to see not only what he’s done for this team and all of us as players, but the city of Detroit. It was a great way to honor him. We were happy to win, we were proud for that family and it was a good night for that (tribute).”