Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has authorized the return of professional sports, as we learned earlier this morning. She made it clear that capacity crowds will not be permitted until there is a COVID-19 vaccine, but Lions team president Rod Wood is trying to get Ford Field opened up to fans just the same. Wood released the following statement via the team’s official Twitter account.
“Governor Whitmer’s most recent Executive Order is an exciting step forward in our preparation for the 2020 season. We are working closely with her office to evaluate when and how we can safely play in front of our fans. With nearly 3 months until our regular season home opener at Ford Field, I’m optimistic and encouraged by our progress.”
It seems that most, if not all, teams will be playing in front of empty or partially-full stadiums in 2020, and Wood is hopeful that his club will be able to generate at least some gate revenue this year.
Now for more on the Lions:
- Lions QB Matthew Stafford has been saying for some time that he is fully healthy, and the team posted a brief video clip of its signal-caller working out with teammates, which suggests that Stafford is indeed ready to go (Twitter link). While that’s certainly encouraging, it’s also notable that the workout is in contravention of the advice of NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, who said players should not be practicing together privately. Stafford is by no means the only QB1 to be participating in workouts, and as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes, the 32-year-old signal-caller has made adjustments to try and keep himself and his teammates healthy.
- Sheila Ford Hamp will take over her mother’s duties as principal owner and chairperson of the Lions, and she said she is going to take a very hands-on approach (Twitter link via Rothstein). Given Lions fans’ general feelings towards the Ford family, that may or may not be welcome, but Hamp said her first course of business will be to meet with members of the organization’s departments that she is less familiar with. As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets, Hamp specifically noted that she wants to learn more about the analytics side of the operation.
- Hamp has also said that she would sign off on the team’s acquisition of QB Colin Kaepernick if her football people thought it was in the club’s best interests (video link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). The Lions, though, appear to be an imperfect schematic fit for Kaepernick, and in any event, neither Detroit nor any other club has reached out to him yet.