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WATCH: Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz and President Tom Lewand address the kickoff luncheon

WATCH: Remarks from Think Detroit PAL CEO Michael Porter and Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee



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Local News / Sports

Friday, 2 September, 2011 11:37 AM

Detroit Lions are hopeful for the regular season after four preseason wins


Color Commentator Jim Brandstatter, Play-by-Play Announcer Dan Miller and Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz at the 15th annual Lions Kickoff Luncheon on Aug. 31, 2011.


by Jason Rzucidlo



DETROIT -- The Detroit Lions are ready for the start of the 2011 regular season. The team held its annual kickoff luncheon on Wednesday inside the lobby of Ford Field. It was hosted by the Detroit Economic Club and was sponsored by The Wisne Family. The entire team was on hand including the players, staff and top management. Then, they boarded the buses for Buffalo. The Lions ended up winning Thursday's game, 16-6 to finish the preseason with a perfect 4-0 record.

"A lot has changed in two and a half years," Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz said. "You sit here on a Wednesday afternoon and see so many people going to a Tigers game. You see a sold-out crowd to a Lions kickoff luncheon. It means a lot to this city, it means a lot to us. As I said last year and we've said all along, there's great things ahead for this franchise and for this city. I think where we're going to go as team is a tribute to the hard work of this team. We have great fans here. Do one thing for me though: our quarterback likes to call a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage. I love the 'Let's Go Lions' cheer. I don't hear very much on my headphones, but 'Let's Go Lions' I hear. Not when it's fourth and goal from the three."

The Lions beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-3 on Aug. 12, the Cleveland Browns, 30-28 on Aug. 19, the New England Patriots, 34-1 on Aug. 27 and the Buffalo Bills, 16-6 yesterday to make up their four preseason wins. This is not the first time they accomplished that feat -- they also did it in 2008.

"Training camp was a little bit different this year," Schwartz added. "Usually, we have a long off-season and players get a month break. Training camp always seems like its over that quick. This year, it's been a lot different. We didn't see the players for six months. To me, it seems like three or four months ago, we've started training camp. A lot has happened in that time. We sold out a preseason game. There was a lot of excitement in the crowd. Our players felt the same thing. We need to make it where us selling out a game isn't a big announcement. It's not something that gets on the news, it's something that understood."

The 2010 Detroit Lions team awards were announced during the luncheon. Drew Stanton won the Chuck Hughes Most Improved Player award and the Robert Porcher Man of the Year award. Ndamukong Suh won both the Mel Farr Rookie of the Year award and the Lem Barney Defensive MVP award. Nate Burleson took home the Mike Utley Spirit Award. Kyle Vanden Bosch won the Joe Schmidt Leadership Award. Dominic Raiola and Jeff Backus both were honored with the Erik Andolsek Top Offensive Lineman award. Stefan Logan took home the Yale Lary Special Teams MVP award and Calvin Johnson won the Bobby Layne Offensive MVP award.

"The same pundits and columnists and whatever else who were saying we're trying to buy what the Lions are selling didn't really listen to what Ndamukong Suh or Calvin Johnson or Matthew Stafford or anybody else had to say after that same," said Detroit Lions Team President Tom Lewand. "It was, 'Yeah, we're pleased with our performance. We've got a lot of work to do.' Yeah, it's the pre-season. We've got to carry that into the regular season. We've got things that we've yet to accomplish. It's about those values and that hard work that are important to building this football team in our community, in our city, in our region that is the kind of team that we an proud of this year and years to come."

The motor city's NFL team will kickoff the regular season on Sept. 11 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 1 p.m. The Lions will play their first regular season home game on Sept. 18 against the Kansas City Chiefs, also at 1 p.m.

"We have the same expectations that the community has for us, we have higher ones for ourselves," Lewand added. "We're trying to build it the right way. The first thing that Martin [Mayhew] and I did was to find a head coach to lead this franchise. Martin is a player and then in the front office for a number of years and myself in the front office, we knew lots of people in the league. Neither one of us knew Jim Schwartz. We went to Nashville to interview him for seven or eight hours on a Saturday afternoon. By the time we finished with that visit, we were convinced that we had a guy that could come up here and put a lot of flesh onto the bones of our philosophy."

Other highlights include the Monday Night Football game on Oct. 10 against the Chicago Bears at 8:30 p.m. and the Thanksgiving game against the Green Bay Packers with a 12:30 p.m. start.

"As a lifelong Lion fan, I want to thank Tom Lewand, Martin Mayhew, Coach Schwartz and his staff and the players," said Michael Porter, CEO of Think Detroit PAL. "You are an important part of the community, not only because you are wonderful citizens, you give back to us and so many other wonderful organizations, but because you are a tremendous sort of pride to this community. Building a successful team is about a lot more than assembling talented athletes. They are looking for strength and character. They are looking for people who can relate to and work well with others."

One of the Lions' keys to success is keeping quarterback Matthew Stafford healthy and on the field. He spent most of the 2010 season on medical after an injury in the first game of the season.

"There's a critical organization that played a role in my life," said Detroit Police Chief Ralph L. Godbee Jr. "Mike, I played football, I was pretty good. It gave me an opportunity. I don't remember how many wins we had and losses we had. I remember the opportunities I had to talk with Coach Jackson. I do remember playing the East Side Raiders. Even after a tough loss, the lessons we learned about character and honoring your opponent, show class and dignity, teamwork. When I learned those lessons, I didn't have any idea what youth football would have on the development of my life. I found out that there were people in the community that really cared about me."

Many fans are optimistic that the Lions will go all the way. After 20 years of disappointing seasons, the team could make it to the playoffs. The last time the Lions won an NFL title was back in 1957.

For more information about the Detroit Lions, visit

Related Story: Detroit Lions officials are optimistic for the 2010 regular season



Mel Farr presents the 2010 Lem Barney Defensive MVP award to Ndamukong Suh



Suh also received the 2010 Mel Farr Rookie of the Year award.



Detroit Lions Team President Tom Lewand addresses the kickoff luncheon.



"Yeah, it's the pre-season," Lewand said. "We've got to carry that into the regular season."



Think Detroit PAL CEO Michael Porter also addresses the crowd.


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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.