Lions president addresses players, tells them to win Sunday

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Lions President Rod Wood addressed the team after Friday's practice.

"Any time you have distractions, regardless of it’s changes in (executives) or stuff that you have going on at home, it’s taking away from what you do here," Lions WR Golden Tate said.

The team announced the hiring of Wood, who was chief executive of Ford Estates the past eight years, Thursday and will introduce him publicly later Friday afternoon.

Wood spoke for about 5 minutes, according to wide receiver Golden Tate, with the players huddle on a knee around him.

Tate said Wood mentioned a desire to do whatever it takes to make the Lions a championship-caliber organization, and multiple players said Wood told them to win Sunday against the Raiders (1 p.m., CBS) at Ford Field.

Although Lions players said it hasn't been hard to maintain focus, they acknowledged that all of the shuffling in the front office this year can become a distraction.

"It can be distracting, obviously," Tate said. "The good teams in this league can focus on football and preparing for the next game or that week. Any time you have distractions, regardless of it's changes in (executives) or stuff that you have going on at home, it's taking away from what you do here.

"So, it can be challenging. I think this team has handled it very well. I think we're still playing together, and we're just going to continue to keep getting wins."

The Lions fired President Tom Lewand and General Manager Martin Mayhew two weeks ago. Wood replaces Lewand, and the Lions will continue searching for their next GM.

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Safety Don Carey said the team's leadership, both players and coach Jim Caldwell, have helped the players maintain their focus.

"It can (be a distraction), but it hasn't," Carey said. "That's the cool thing about it. With the leadership we have and the focus we have, the way coach Caldwell goes about his business, it really hasn't been that big of a distraction to us like you think it would."

Part of the reason the Lions haven't been distracted is they understand the business aspect of the NFL.

"We're all here to do our job and play football," he said. "We can't control any of that. All we can control is what we do in practice and on the field, so that's what we focus on."