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Lions’ vice chairman Bill Ford calls Bears a ‘bunch of thugs’

Updated: October 2, 2013 9:35AM

The Detroit Lions-Chicago Bears rivalry just got a little more interesting.

During a question and answer session at the Lions’ 20th annual Courage House dinner tonight, Lions vice chairman Bill Ford called the Bears a “bunch of thugs” when asked about the electric atmosphere during the Lions’ 40-32 victory Sunday at Ford Field.

The win vaulted the Lions (3-1) into a first-place tie in the NFC North and knocked Chicago from the ranks of the unbeaten.

“It was really alive, and it was alive when we played those same bunch of thugs on Monday Night a couple (years ago),” Ford said. “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.”

Many in the audience laughed at the remark, and a Lions spokesperson called after the event to say Ford was “joking” with his thug comment.

Ford did not stay after the event, which honored the Lions’ 2013 Ed Block Award winner Nate Burleson, to answer questions from reporters.

But his remarks came two days after a heated game in which Jim Schwartz took offense at a late hit Jon Bostic made to the back of Kris Durham as Durham covered the game-clinching onside kick.

“We talk a lot about player safety and things like that and he’s laying prone on the ground, is giving himself up and takes a helmet right to the back and we don’t any call there,” Schwartz said after the game. “It’s a little hypocritical to talk about player safety when we allow that to not get called. But Kris toughed it out and he had to hold onto that ball and he did.”

Ford, in his first public comments since an organized team activity practice in June, also predicted that the Lions will snap their 22-game road losing streak in Wisconsin this Sunday when they play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The Lions haven’t won in the state of Wisconsin since 1991.

“Green Bay’s special and Lambeau Field, there’s a special feeling going into Lambeau, always has been, and yet I hate going up there,” Ford said. “But when we win this week it’s going to make it feel a heck of a lot better.”

Ford did not make any predictions about the season during his comments, but he spoke highly of where the team is heading.

“First of all we have playmakers at almost every position and we haven’t always had that in the past,” Ford said. “And second is we’re getting great line play on both sides of the ball. And that’s not something we’ve always had in the past. In fact, we’ve had moments of greatness but I think this year it’s really built on an incredibly solid foundation and I think we also have real depth this year. I think Martin (Mayhew) and the team and Tom (Lewand) in the off-season just did a magnificent job both in free agency and in the draft because we’re an exciting team, we’re a strong team, we also have depth.”

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