Emptying my Friday notebook
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's comments on the Thanksgiving day game have me wondering if the Lions (and Cowboys) are headed for another showdown with the rest of the league when the owner's meetings convene two months from now in California.
The Lions successfully fought off a measure by late Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt to rotate the game a few years ago, and if you remember back to November there was some public outcry that the Lions, who've lost their last five turkey-day games by an average of 23.4 points, should give up their holiday tradition altogether.
Goodell said at his pre-Super Bowl press conference that the Lions will play on Thanksgiving next year, but didn't commit beyond that.
It's a great tradition in Detroit and in Dallas, Goodell said according to a transcript of the session. It's something that our owners have raised from time to time. It will not change for this season. As to whether the ownership feels the same, we will discuss it as we get later into the year. We certainly will raise it.
Certainly will raise it? That sounds ominous.
New Lions coach Jim Schwartz said at a town-hall meeting Monday that he intended to put a barbed-wire fence around that Thanksgiving day game. That jives with how the Ford family feels about a tradition that's sacred locally. But I wonder how much pull ownership will have now that its trump camp, Ford Motor Company's advertising budget, has been so dramatically affected by the economy.
Beyond the Lions' atrocious holiday play, there's also a feeling that teams the Cowboys benefit by, effectively, having an extra bye week built into their season. Schwartz referenced that benefit Monday as well.
I don't know if there'll be enough support to alter the schedule for 2010, but it could happen sooner than you or Schwartz think.
ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert is reporting that there have been recent indications that the Lions were focusing in on former Jaguars executive James Shack Harris to be Martin Mayhew's assistant general manager (or some like title).
I left Harris a message a short while ago and he has not yet returned my phone call, but a person close to Harris said suggestions he could soon be a Lion are not untrue. I've written it before, but it bears repeating that I think Harris would be a wise hire. He's built the sort of teams Mayhew envisions in Jacksonville and Baltimore, and he has an eye for finding late-round talent in the draft. If it happens, Mayhew should be complimented for fortifying himself with one of the best available options for the position.
Finally, following up on my report from earlier this week about Shawn Jefferson and Sam Gash remaining on staff next year, both men will coach the same positions under Jim Schwartz receivers for Jefferson, running backs for Gash that they did under Rod Marinelli.