– Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said he’s trying to put his fracas with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh in his rear view mirror on Wednesday in a teleconference call with the Atlanta media.
“Yeah, I was for 49 for 49 on shaking a hand before that,” Schwartz said. “I think I’ll get back to that this week. I mean, I don’t know if there’s a coach I respect more in the NFL than Mike Smith.”
Schwartz and Smith coached against each other in the AFC South and have a strong mutual respect.
“I came up and started at the very bottom,” Schwartz said. “That’s the way Mike did, too. He earned everything he’s gotten in the NFL. He started in quality control and moved up to linebacker coach, moved up to coordinator and did a good job at what he was assigned and ended up as a head coach and has done an outstanding job of getting the Falcons to be a consistent winner.”
Schwartz was also effusive in his praise for Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
“I couldn’t have more respect for Thomas Dimitroff,” Schwartz said. “I was a kid who started about as low as you can start in the NFL and Thomas was with us in Cleveland and Thomas was probably lower than me. At least I was in the building. Thomas was out on the grounds crew, pulling tarps and painting fields.
“I think all those guys, we all have a lot of respect for each other and we’re all friends off the field. If I’m sitting at the owner’s meetings or at the combines, there’s nothing I love more than sitting next to Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff.”
After what happened with Harbaugh, he’s looking forward to the post-game handshake with Smith.
“I think I’ll get back on track with handshakes this week,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz doesn’t believe that his team will be distracted in wake of the incident with Harbaugh.
“Our guys are a good focus group, they play hard and they realize it has nothing to do with the game,” Schwartz said. “I think I’ll just leave it at that.”
The Lions are 5-1 for the first time since 1991.
“We’ve come a long way,” Schwartz said. “We lost a game last week, but it was nice to see an opponent celebrating a win over the Detroit Lions. If we beat somebody the last couple of years, a lot of times they were shaking their heads going how did we lose to those guys.
“It’s nice to see somebody celebrating a win against us now and I think our fans are right there with us. Like I said, it will be a good atmosphere when you guys get here on Sunday.”
One last thing, is Kid Rock going to be in the house on Sunday?
“He comes around a lot,” Schwartz said. “The thing that Detroit likes the most about Kid Rock and Bob Seger and a lot of those guys is they could afford to live anywhere in the world they want and they choose to live here in Detroit. People in Detroit respect that and they won’t forget it. Not sure if he’ll be here. He’s getting ready to go back out on tour, but I know if he’s not here he’ll be watching.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog