During the “Fired Up” segment that ends each week’s FOX’s pregame show, former Cowboys and Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson gives the Detroit Lions some free advice on how to proceed in the wake of the termination of CEO Matt Millen.
Says Jimmy:  Hire Scott Pioli away from the Patriots.
“It’d be easy to pile on Matt Millen, everybody’s doing it.  But he wasn’t alone in every decision.  He did not negotiate some of those awful contracts. . . .  There are a bunch of good-old boys, ‘yes’ men drawing paychecks in that front office,” Johnson said.
“You have time to find the best talent evaluator, one that understands how to put together a championship team. . . .  Start with New England’s Scott Pioli.  Pay him whatever he wants.  He’ll pay for his salary with less first-round busts making millions.  And then let him do the necessary house cleaning.  He’ll hire the right people to get the job done.”
It’s hard to argue with Johnson.  Pioli possibly has been overlooked for recent openings because, in the past, he has opted not to leave New England.  Still, when the Falcons homed in on former Pats director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff for the G.M. gig in Atlanta, some questioned whether front-office employees involved in the search process steered clear of Pioli because they feared for their own jobs once the son-in-law of Bill Parcells showed up and started firing and/or reassigning those who needed to be fired and/or reassigned.
And that’s the danger in Detroit.  By leaving in place Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand, to whom Johnson surely was referring when he mentioned “yes” men, the Fords have given them a three-month opportunity to attempt to influence the process of making a permanent hire come January. 
Though many NFL owners are out of their league when they try to make football decisions, it often amazes us that these highly successful human beings sometimes don’t have a better understanding of human nature.  Mayhew and Lewand will do everything they can to keep the positions they inherited once Millen got the ax.  But Mayhew and Lewand were part of the prior problem — and to the extent that they were grousing internally about Millen instead of getting up and leaving, then they’re even less worthy (in our view) of staying.
Here’s hoping that, regardless of the person whom the Lions hire to run the thing, the Fords will realize that the input they’ll be getting from Mayhew and Lewand over the coming weeks will be rooted in their own desire to expand their influence at best, or to keep their jobs at worst.


  1. GREAT piece, Florio.
    Mayhew and Lewand have been in the front office with Millen. They need to be purged immediately.
    Giving these guys four months to influence the Fords was an incredibly stupid decision. If Mayhew gets the job, we’re right back where we started.
    I’m glad Johnson did the piece during the “Fired Up” segment. The Detroit press needs to get on this immediately and keep up the pressure on the franchise or else we’re going to be screwed again.

  2. Why would Pioli want to go to Detriot? He had interest from teams with better situations than the Lions. Millen has screwed up the Lions pretty bad that will take years to fix some of the problems.

  3. 1) Why would Pioli want to go to Detroit and leave the situation he is in now?
    2) Why would Bob Kraft allow him to leave?

  4. Pioli is not going anywhere, Paul Allen opened his checkbook wide open in 05 and he wanted no part of it. He is very loyal to Pats organization and I would guess that he is being paid quite handsomely.

  5. “highly successful human beings”
    Does WCF really qualify?
    Henry Ford, for sure…but not many of his offspring are able to be called “successful”.
    Especially the blue blood clowns who destroyed the Lions.

  6. Scott Pioli is a rare blend of football genius and genuine humility. He lacks ego, which is more than rare in the NFL. Why leave? To prove it’s all him in NE? To prove he doesn’t need Billy O’Belichick. Acclamation is not what he seeks. He’s smarter than that.
    He’s with the smartest owner and the smartest coach in the league. He has family here and in the NY/NJ area, so why leave for a place like Detroit?
    Ain’t happening. Nice try O’Florio.

  7. Those “awful contracts” aren’t the reason the on-field product didn’t pan out. And there’s no way in hell Pioli would want to go to the Lions anymore than he’d want to go to the Raiders.

  8. Pioli has already had the chance to name his salary with the Giants and before there was any backlash from the New England fan base he came right out and said that he wouldn’t leave the Pats organization at any price. It makes sense that if Jimmy J is going to do a piece about hiring a great GM he would start with Pioli, but its just not going to happen. He could have named someone more attainable.

  9. Pioli should go. The Pats are a sinking ship.
    He’d do good to not pull a “Randy Moss” and stay because of the past success during the cheating years.

  10. Four months to prove what? There’s nothing that these GMs can do while the season is still in the process, except to sign some street free agents and make trades before the deadline. The chance to prove occurs during the off-season. Then, once the season starts, it is the products that reflects on GM’s decision.

  11. The last line of JJ’s ‘Fired Up’ segment was this: “If you can’t get Paoli, call me. I have a short list”. Ford would do well to heed the advice and ring up JJ.

  12. asshoe should go. He imagines that the Pats are a sinking ship.
    Randy Moss will stay put and continue to put up big numbers during the ensuing Championship years.

  13. I can’t see Pioli wanting to leave the Pats. He has a great relationship with Belichick and they have spent years building this team. He has had a chance to leave before and didn’t, I don’t see that changing. However, if I was an owner, I would try very hard to get him too.

  14. The Lions should definitely call Pioli. They have to make a big splash to restore some credibility. What better way than to hire a guy that has won 3 Super Bowls, 4 AFC championships, etc. What do they have to lose? They should offer him a boatload of money and all the control he wants.
    The difference b/t the Lions situation and the jobs he has turned down is clear. Unlike the Seahawks and the Giants, the Lions have hit rock bottom. Pioli can walk in there and do whatever he wants. No one will question anything he does. He can hire all his own people and demand the right to fire anyone in the organization. He can strip it down to below the foundation and build anyway he wants. That was not the case in NY or Seattle. Those teams were looking for immediate Champions.
    The Lions should go balls to the wall for Pioli. As Jimmy said, he’ll make up his salary in good decisions and tight control of the cap like he has done in NE. As for Pioli, he’ll look like a genius if he can get them to 8-8.

  15. Good piece. Lions really need to clean house. Keeping Mayhew and Lewand would be like going from Bush to Cheney.
    Pioli might want to leave to prove he can do it again. This time without Bellichek. Also money could be another factor.
    -Ask Mike Holmgren, he could tell you all about leaving a successful place to try and turn one around.

  16. To be honest, the Pats haven’t drafted all that well for the past few years.
    Pioli should go before people figure this out.

  17. Who’s to say Mr. Kraft could prevent him from leaving? Maybe Pioli’s contractual situation is very different now than when the Seahawks and Giants were asking about him. The Fords would be fools not to take JJ’s free advice and at least make a phone. As one of the NFL’s oldest organizations and one that needs to rebuild from the ground up, it might be just the job that Pioli would look at.

  18. How can a classic cynic like you, Florio, not point out the obvious angle to this story? Parcells only said what he said about Pioli to potentially weaken his division rival — the Patriots. Parcells would love nothing more than to get a talent like Pioli out of the AFC East. So his opinion can’t be trusted on this. At the very least, Florio, you should have raised this point.

  19. The Pats haven’t drafted that well in the last few years? Then what would you call the drafts of…Jerod Mayo, Randy Moss,Logan Mankins, Ty Warren,Vince WilFolk and Stephen Gatowski(?)
    Hey Florio please don’t give any false hope to Lion’s fans.

  20. @onanygivensunday
    I’m pretty sure the Vikings drafted Randy Moss. And isn’t it a little early to be calling Jerod Mayo a draft success? Nice try though.

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