Lions president Tom Lewand met with Detroit writers on Saturday and answered some questions about the current work stoppage. The following transcripts were provided by the Lions.
On how the organization will move forward with NFL work stoppage: "From our perspective, what's most important is to get ready to play football in 2011. Everything that we've done since 2010 has been geared towards that, with things like preparing for free agency — which obviously isn't taking place right now; preparing for the draft, which will take place and getting ready for that. Our coaching staff has spent a considerable amount of time recapping the 2010 season, going through the cut-up process, going through the playbook with as much as they have following every season. Our preparations continue. Nothing that has happened in the last couple of weeks, nothing that has happened in the last couple of days is going to change that. Our focus continues to be on the 2011 season and our hope and our expectation is that we're playing football this year."
On how the organization is approaching the uncertain free agency process: "In an environment of uncertainty we have to be ready for everything. The things we've been doing the past several months - and certainly the past couple of weeks - have been geared towards planning for various contingencies. I mentioned a little while ago that we prepared for free agency as if it were going to start in early March as it normally has and the reports that we did, the scouting reports, the synchronization of our information, of our scouting information, the coaches' opinions - all of that work is done. So, we have that ready to go, much like we have a lot of other things ready to go from a coaching standpoint, from a player personnel standpoint as well as a lot of other areas of our organization that will be impacted by rules that change polices that may involve various contingencies that can take place over the course of the common days, weeks and months."
On if the team will be able to talk to injured players during the work stoppage: "We have mechanisms in place where we can monitor the rehabilitation of any injured players who were injured playing football last year. The guys that we know we have set up at rehabilitation facilities around the country. We have lines of communication open to those rehabilitation facilities and we'll be able to monitor the progress of those injured players as they progress."
On the team's mindset with the uncertain timing of free agency: "Our focus is to get ready to play football for the 2011 season and putting ourselves in the best position to be as successful as possible for the 2011 season. Those plans haven't changed; they are modified and adapted to suit the rules as they exist and the possible anticipation of things that might happen. Everything that we do is geared to put us in the best position possible to be successful in 2011 and beyond."
On whether there's any concern that the work stoppage could negatively impact the team's relationships with its players: "I think that we have a lot of respect for our players. I personally have a lot of respect for the guys who are in our locker room and what they've done to build our program over the last couple of years. That level of respect isn't going to change one bit. I know those guys want to play football and I have both personal and professional relationships with a lot of the guys in that locker room. More importantly, organizationally we have a lot of respect for them and they are obviously critical to what we're trying to accomplish as an organization and as a football team. That goes without saying. The focus needs to be on getting a deal done as quickly as possible and as we have said, as the league has said, as the commissioner has said, as Jeff Pash articulated pretty eloquently yesterday, this deal will get done at the negotiating table and the faster we get back to that table to get a deal done, the faster we can minimize the consequences that could occur the longer this were to go and the more contingent to the environments that are beyond the control of both sides, like the court room."
On the impact the work stoppage could have on the team's general business operations: "I think, again, our focus is again to get ready for the season. We have a good relationship with our season ticket base. We sent them a letter today that went out electronically and will also go out by US Mail. We'll be communicating through email blasts with them. I think it's important to maintain direct communication with them, but the bottom-line is they want us to play football. They're not interested in hearing which side says what at the negotiating table or in the court room. They're interested in watching Lions football. We understand that. We get it and that's what we're focused on as well, we want to play football. We want to build on the last four game (winning streak to end) last year, build on the things that we've been doing as an organization for the last two years and that's where the focus needs to be. To the extent that there's some uncertainty in the business environment, uncertainty in changes in the rules or how we operate, we'll adapt, we'll adjust and we'll be prepared for it. That's our job, that's what we're supposed to do, but we'll do it in a way that minimizes any disruptions and maintains the focus on preparations for the 2011 season."