Wayne Fontes, armed with a three-year contract to coach the Detroit Lions, didn't have much competition for the job, according to team owner William Clay Ford.
"Nobody else was interviewed," Ford said Thursday in announcing that Fontes was losing his "interim" label. "There have been other applicants for the job, names you've all heard of. I evaluated them in my mind, but we never interviewed any of them."I thought about others, but the more I thought the more I realized I was spinning my wheels. I realized I had what I wanted right here."
"This is a very humbling experience," said Fontes, given a contract for an estimated $250,000. "It's the second-happiest day of my life."
Fontes was given the interim job after Ford fired Darryl Rogers and offensivecoordinator Bob Baker. Fontes guided the team to a 2-3 record, beating the GreenBay Packers twice. The Lions finished the 1988 season 4-12 and out of the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
Fontes, 48, was an assistant for 13 years, first at Tampa Bay and then Detroit, before getting his big break.
"We want maximum effort from our football team," Ford said. "We want a good, entertaining performance on Sundays. We want the crowd to be with us. The way todo that, obviously, is winning.
"And it's also providing entertaining football, football that's fun to watch. We haven't been fun to watch for an awful long time."
Attendance dwindled to record lows in the 80,638-seat Silverdome. The Lions drew only 25,956 for a 23-20 loss to Tampa Bay - the last game Rogers coached - and just 28,124 for their final home game against the Packers.
Ford made it clear he expects Fontes to put fans back in the seats.