Former Lions coach Steve Mariucci took what seems like a shot at the man who hired him and fired him — Matt Millen — in explaining how Detroit’s football fortunes have finally turned around.
Mariucci didn’t rip Millen personally, but he did praise Millen’s successor atop the Lions’ front office, Martin Mayhew, for keeping many of the Lions’ scouts on the staff when he took over for Millen — and for following the advice of those scouts.
“There’s some good scouts there,” Mariucci said, per the Detroit Free Press. “I’ve been in a lot of draft rooms around the league, and the Detroit Lions have some good scouts and they just needed to be listened to. And so Martin Mayhew does that. He takes their evaluations and their opinions to heart, as he does with the coaches, and he makes an executive decision based on a lot of information. And that’s where he really excels.”
That sure sounds like Mariucci is suggesting that Millen, who had final say in the Lions’ draft room from 2001 to 2008, didn’t listen to the scouts on high-profile failed picks like Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington and Mike Williams. But Mariucci, perhaps wishing to avoid the scent of sour grapes after Millen fired him in 2005, tiptoed away from criticizing Millen and instead focused on praising Mayhew.
“His approach has been successful so far, so let’s just leave it at that,” Mariucci said of Mayhew. “He’s done a nice job.”
It’s been a long time since anyone has been able to say that about the Lions’ front office.