ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Ford family doesn't always attend the annual NFL owners meetings, but this week, Detroit vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. has represented ownership. He also spoke to local beat reporters for the first time since suggesting in 2008 that he would fire former general manager Matt Millen if it were up to him.
Millen was fired days later. On Monday, Ford offered a resounding endorsement of the Lions' new direction under general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz.
Ford called Mayhew "the most prepared guy I've been around" and added: "It is the early stages. Early with Martin, early with Jim. But the early returns are, I think, very good. And I know my father's [William Clay Ford] very pleased with both of them."
Continuing around the NFC North:
The cost of Chicago signing St. Louis safety O.J. Atogwe would be "prohibitive," writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Bears are paying new nickelback Tim Jennings about half what the deposed Nathan Vasher was scheduled to make, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Green Bay's offseason moves make clear that leadership is important, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy is "incredibly valuable" to the league's ongoing labor negotiations, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Minnesota owner Zygi Wilf was "really disappointed" when left tackle Bryant McKinnie was dismissed from the NFC Pro Bowl team, but Wilf said the Vikings have no interest in parting ways with McKinnie. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune has more.