Though the Miami Dolphins, and the Atlanta Falcons have proven that chronically bad teams can be turned around in one year by making the right moves, the Detroit Lions seem to be fully content on staying the course, even as they close in on the first 0-16 regular season in NFL history.
On Sunday, owner William Clay Ford, Sr. said that G.M. Martin Mayhew and COO Tom Lewand will be back in 2009, possibly in the same jobs they now hold.  Mr. Ford also said that a new addition to the front office might not hold final authority over personnel, and that he doesn’t think there’s one person out there who can help reverse the team’s fortunes.
Mr. Ford might be right, but only because Mr. Ford apparently isn’t inclined to hand the keys over to someone with the ability to fix the franchise, and then the willingness to get out of the way.
As these Monday comments from Lewand illustrate, there’s still an “emperor’s new clothes” vibe apparently going on in Detroit.
“Look, I look at this product maybe through a different lens than other people do,” Lewand said.  “I grew up following this team.  This is my team.  When I was five or six years old, pulling the old ‘Christmas Story’ red wagon, this is my team.”
[Editor’s note:  Ugh.  Will someone please shoot my eye out?] 
“And this is not the product that this city deserves,” Lewand said.  “It deserves better.  And there’s nobody who wants it to be right more than Mr. Ford does.  And I think he will do everything in his power to get it right.”
Though we now better understand how Lewand has used his silver tongue to remain ensconced in Honolulu Blue for so long, one thing the citizens of Detroit don’t deserve is a bunch of sappy crap about Lewand’s boyhood and the Ford family’s commitment to the team.
They deserve results.
History speaks for itself.  The Lions have won one postseason game since Dwight Eisenhower lived in the White House.  Despite having one of the greatest players of all time for a full decade (Barry Sanders, in the event you’ve forgotten) and the ability for half of that time to augment the roster via actual free agency, the Lions were at best a tease, a team that new how to create high hopes for the postseason and then failed to deliver on them.
The best owners in the NFL know what they know, and they know what they don’t.  They trust their employees who possess the requisite skills and experiences to do their jobs.  And they hold them accountable when they don’t.
In Detroit, we sense that the Fords like to dip their fingers into the stew from time to time, and thus whoever is working for them needs to be willing to defer from time to time to the wishes of folks who simply aren’t qualified to be calling the shots about whom they should draft, and/or whom they should hire to be the head coach.
Unless and until the Fords get out of the way, things will not change for the Lions.  The best hope for the folks living in Detroit?  Start following one of the other 31 NFL teams.
Or maybe hockey.      


  1. I have nothing against the fine folks of Detroit.
    So I would suggest becoming fans of 29 other teams.
    Skip the Raiders and Bengals.

  2. It’s really sad. Pitifully sad.
    As a Packers fan, I’m not one to hope for a resurgent Lions franchise; however, I do realize how heartbreaking it has to be for Lions fans. No one deserves a team that is this crappy for this long. Well, maybe the Vikings fans do. Just kidding, Queenies! Just kidding. :^D

  3. Yep. And this is the same guy thats going to be asking for $20b of taxpayer money to bailout his company, which also cant compete. I dont know who’s worse – Ford or Mike Brown.
    My condolences to Lion fans. Its got to be incredibly frustrating.

  4. Good words but the Lions need an overhaul. I wouldn’t leave anyone in the front office that Millen hired because they’re as much to blame for the situation as Millen was.
    I wish Lion fans better luck. This is a very long standing franchise that deserves better than what the fans are getting.

  5. As a lifelong Lions fan, it IS frustrating. Ford is the worst kind of owner–he loves to have input and he has absolutely no idea what makes a good football team.
    I totally agree that everyone who was hired under Millen needs to go. That said, Tom Lewand is in charge of player contracts. He, as far as we know, has no input on which players come in, get drafted, get released, etc. His job is to work on the contracts with the players.
    He hasn’t been the problem with this franchise. Millen has been, and Mayhew was his right-hand man. Mayhew needs to go.

  6. Detroit sports fans HAVE been following hockey, and for a long time with good reason. I don’t know why they ‘deserve’ better. Never met a Lions fan in my life and I’m pretty sure I can imagine why.
    It would be interesting to see what Goodell would do if the Lions continue their pathetic play. After, football to him is a product and he’d have to do something with the bad apples. I think it’s amazing in this age that any team could be so bad and ruined by the front office. Then I look at Oakland and I’m humbled.

  7. Well you guys do have the Redwings.
    Now with Marian Hossa you guys will probably sweep the Stanley Cup…..
    Oh so nobody watches hockey????
    Dude, screw you guys.

  8. old man ford is happiest with a team that wins between 7-9 games, occasional playoff game, scores points, entertaining, that’s it. no deep playoff runs.
    if the lions really got good, that would entail the possibility of a practical loss of control of the team to a subordinate. hence he keeps the nosepicking sycophants around.
    lewand in particular must go. more so than marinelli or mayhew, and perhaps more than millen had to go.
    that’s the facts from north of daytwa.

  9. From my time living in Detroit for over 11 years, I did get the feeling that Ford sincerely does want to win. I also, however have come to the conclusion that Mr Ford is an extremely loyal guy. So once someone has been able to get to him and get in with the old guy, he has proven to be VERY reluctant to cut them loose.
    Maybe he likes those fireside chats that a “Millen” kinda guy will do with him….a guy like Parcells is not for Ford…
    But I don’t think he is intentionally running the Lions like a Donald Sterling does the Clippers…he just doesn’t know any better. Can’t the NFL privately pull him aside and offer advice on behalf of the league?

  10. “And this is not the product that this city deserves,” Lewand said. “It deserves better. And there’s nobody who wants it to be right more than Mr. Ford does. And I think he will do everything in his power to get it right.”
    The dude’s talking about Detroit here, Detroit! They’re getting what they deserve. Of course under the “Get What they Deserve” scenario, I figure Washington and Chicago should be pretty bad, too. Come to think of it… Washington does get what it deserves… a team that is just good enough to tease and make their fans start thumping their chests and claiming greatness only to be let down in the end… perhaps that is worse than 0-15…. season after season of false hope and unfulfilled expectations. Since 1947 Lion fans have known what to expect, and anything more than that was considered a bonus.

  11. I probably don’t read enough comments from owners and COOs but the use of the term “product” sounds cheap to me. Yeah, perhaps fans put more worth on something that, in the end, is little more than a “product” to the corporation(s) running them, but please pay me a little lip service.
    At least say, “this is not the team we deserve,” or “this is not the season we deserve.” Take that profit-addled heart of yours and at least pretend it’s more than just a business to your customers.
    Yeah, I know it’s a minor point, but, hey, imagine Bob Kraft had stood in the Superdome after Super Bowl XXXVI and remarked, “The product performed admirably, my friends.” (You can substitute your favorite quote. It still fits.)

  12. You know it’s rough when not even PFT posters can bring themselves to joke about the Lions anymore.

  13. Do not punish the fine folks at the Ford Motor Company for this mess.
    They had the good sense to push William Clay Ford out the door in the early 60’s, his title is puffery, they do not let him run the elevators at the Glass House in Dearborn.
    If and when Jr. takes over, you will see real change in Detroit, until then, he has too much respect for his father to meddle, and all we can do is wait until the baton is passed.

  14. The league should step in and take over this team.
    Institute mandatory owner IQ tests and if you can’t pass a certain level your team gets sold to the highest bidder. The only condition is it has to stay in it’s current city.
    Green Bay is exempt.

  15. Surely follows the dilemma the auto industry is in with archaic management styles. I agree with you, I don’t see a turnaround with them as long as that style prevails. Wayne had the intestinal fortitude to do exatly what you suggest. Empower people that know what they are doing and build a strong basis for accountability.
    PS-True definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  16. Sucks to be a Lions fan. But it is awesome to cheer on perennial Stanley Cup Champions and NBA title contenders, and the Tigers ain’t too shabby either. So, I have no sympathy you greedy greedy bastards.

  17. To be fair to Mr. Ford, I do not believe he has anything to do with the car company. Also, Ford has not asked for any money…yet. I believe they only said they would need if GM and Chrysler completely tanked.
    Now that I said that, it is almost criminal to be this bad for this long in a league with a salary and so much revenue sharing. You almost have to try.

  18. “Yep. And this is the same guy thats going to be asking for $20b of taxpayer money to bailout his company, which also cant compete.”
    I’m a Lions fan (unfortunately), so I hate the Fords more than most, but you do know you’re completely wrong?
    GM and Chrysler are the two that need the bailout, and it’s a combined 14 billion to keep the two of them afloat through March.
    How you came up with Ford Motor Company failing to compete and needing 20 billion itself is beyond me.
    Get the facts straight.

  19. You cannot lump Miami in with Detroit and Atlanta. The Dolphins are one most winningest franchises ever. They have had a bad 5 year stretch but that doesnt make them a “chronically” bad team. Florio get your head out of your ass.

  20. As much as it goes against the grain of the true fan, Detroit fans HAVE TO stop going to the games!!! An empty stadium week after week is the ONLY way this mess will ever be fixed. The Lions must become a financial burden to Ford to such a degree that he is forced to sell. No season tickets, no jerseys, no hot dogs, nothing. You essentially have to boycott your home town team. Easier said than done, I know. But look at the facts, Ford won’t change. You have to force him to sell.

  21. There are two kinds of people in the world, those who “get it” and those who don’t. WCF Sr. (and the rest of the Lions front office) fall into the second group.

  22. I can’t take this any more, I’m 26 years old and I haven’t been able to watch good football my entire life. Yet I still love this team so much, they get me every year. But this is it, if they don’t hire a competent G.M. and a new coaching staff before the draft, I will be done. I can no longer put up with this crap, the commissioner needs to step in and tell WCF that he needs a consultant to help him hire people. This man cannot run a company, let alone a football team. He’s an old piece of crap afraid of change, we will be rebuilding until the team is taken from us…
    Here’s to 0-16 this year and next. God save us

  23. Contraction. MLB wanted to do it but more importantly it should be done in the NFL to the Lions and Raiders. Put them and their fans out of their misery.

  24. Can’t they spend a chunk of their 17 billion to buy Pioli????
    Would be a better investment than what the banks are doing w/their bailout money

  25. I love how the Dolphins are labeled by some in the media as a “chronically bad team”. The Dolphins have been bad since 1992. That is hardly a history of losing. The last two years they were 6-10 and 1-15. Before that they were 9-7. They were 11-5 only 6 years ago. Don’t lump them with Detroit and Atlanta …
    That being said, Ford is the only company NOT taking bailout money, which means they have to save money, which means the easiest route they can take is to keep the people they have. I think that is what is underlying the fact that they are keeping some staff on, and will probably give Marinelli another shot. Status Quo is the cheapest thing to do.

  26. The Fords have no problem laying off hundreds and hundreds of auto workers that are doing their jobs just fine, but the %$#@ups that helped ruin a once proud franchise get to keep their jobs?!

  27. “the Lions were at best a tease, a team that new how to create high”
    Anyways, it’s just Ford trying to build hope for next season to make sure the Lions still profit. He still won’t do anything related to getting the team back in position to win.

  28. The best way to get the Ford’s attention is NOT to renew your season tickets and for EVERYONE to boycott their games.

  29. Red Wagon? WTF? What is this guy talking about? What does that have to do with “A Christmas Story”?

  30. As morbid as it sounds, the only way the Lions will be able to rebound is when WCF Sr passes away. He is too loyal to the men he has put in place, as evidenced by him taking 7 years to fire Millen (more on this later), and simply doesn’t care about running a franchise or how that franchise produces. With TV revenue, merchandising, etc, Ford makes millions before the season even starts. The Lions are a play toy to him.
    The only real hope is when Bill Ford Jr takes over the Lions. He has become a more vocal opponent of how his father has run things, and was the “mastermind” behind the scenes of letting Millen go. The only problem is that Ford Sr. is refusing to give control over to Jr. and was even quoted locally, that Jr. “doesn’t have the time” to run the franchise. I really hate to wish ill will on anyone, but changes will only come in the form of Senior’s passing. And if you think I’m wrong, see what happened after “Dollar” Bill Wuertz’ passing (owned the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL).
    And to Crocks’ post of contracting the Lions: it will never happen. Not only are the Lions a founding member of the NFL, but who is a major sponsor of the NFL? THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY.

  31. This is the real difference between football and baseball. You can have a team this pathetically bad in football, and it’s considered a problem. In baseball, it’s simply considered economics. I really do hope that Detroit improves.

  32. The biggest question here is “Why Now?”.
    The league doesn’t want to see any team go 0-16, it takes a long time to get fans to come back after that. As unlikely as it is for a team in this age of financially imposed parity to go 16-0, it is far more difficult to go 16-0.
    Maybe the league is playing chicken with Ford, dangling a win in return for – let’s say for example – league approval of his GM choice. The typical WCF reaction to that sort of pressure would be to do exactly the opposite, which means endorsing the current puppet administration prior to the final game.

  33. You’re a professional writer Florio. Get in the game! Absolutely no need for that first comma, and speaking of that first sentence, the word that belongs there is proved, not proven. You’d say a proven leader, a proven pessimist, the proven commodity. But someone proved, or has proved, that something else happened.

  34. faithrevolution says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 9:58 am
    Choose hockey. They don’t have fat guys, criminals and thugs dancing in the middle of a field like they’re God himself.

    Being a pretty big hockey fan, I really have ever even watched a hockey game before making this comment?

  35. Wow. I don’t blame Barry Sanders for bailing on this organization at all. I think we can safely say he’s been vindicated.
    I also think the debate between who would you rather have as an owner, an old crazy passionate guy or someone who completely avoids decisions has been answered. I’d take Al Davis over the Fords any day of the week. At least he’s trying.
    The fans need to stop going. The financial bottom line is the only thing that will affect the direction of this team. Or that’s what would make sense anyway, but with the Fords you never know. What a complete joke. Is this what being ridiculously wealthy brings? Complete delusion and absolute rigidity?
    There’s another thing this “decision” does that nobody is talking about. It sends a message to the current players that this franchise doesn’t hold itself to any accountability. This is the sort of thing that percolates downwards through an organization. If ownership doesn’t care and won’t take responsibility, management will start doing everything they can to simply keep their jobs. Winning is tertiary. If winning isn’t the bottom line of management, then the players motivation becomes keeping a nice paycheck for as long as they can, and covering their ass when the occasional ‘audit’ happens. At this point I don’t blame any players there for dogging it. No one in their right mind would want to knowingly damage their body day after day if they realized they don’t need to. Dungy may have been right after all. It’s not Marinelli’s fault the team sucks. Management has put itself in a position where they won’t (or can’t) move enough players to send any type of job security message. The players, or their agents, probably figured this out and they know exactly where to position themselves to avoid a trim. They could have the genius coach love child of Belichick and Lombardi at the helm and it wouldn’t matter. This team is just broken now.

  36. Another pathetic attept by Teflon Tommy to portray himself as a good guy instead of one of the chief cancers responsible for this mess. What a self-serving politician. Mayhew isn’t a politician, but he’s not in any way qualified to be in the position he is in. Mayhew and Lewand are what is wrong with football today, and if the Lions keep them then they deserve to lose.

  37. I feel bad for Lions fans. Your owner has ruined a great car company and has no interest in ever winning a supper bowl. I hope you have a dolphin like turn around next season, but with the Ford family in charge that probably won’t happen.

  38. The NFL needs to step in and force the Lions to sell. If they don’t, revoke their charter. The owners as a group could easily vote out the Lions, just revoke their charter and pull their NFL tag. This isn’t an NFL team, it’s an arena football team that plays NFL games. It’s ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous.
    If the Lions were seriously looking at losing their NFL charter, the team would drop in value from about $500m (yeah, they’re that bad) to $5m. Even the Fords, as incompetent and idiotic as they are, would realize the financial implications of this and changes would be made.
    If the Commish was really interested in bringing great football to NFL fans, he would take action. Without any action by the Commish, the owners need to get together and vote the Lions out of the NFL. They just simply aren’t an NFL team.
    And am I the only one who thinks the “Los Angeles Lions” has a good ring to it?

  39. As a life-long Lion fan, this has no question been the toughest year I’ve ever had to endure. The ineptness of the management and the coaching staff are at an all time low. It’s actually embarrassing to watch these stiffs, and I often have had to turn off the game many times this year.
    As a Sunday Ticket subscriber living in Missouri, I’m considering having Florio work up the papers to sue the Lions for not living up to their part of the deal. I wonder if I would have any other takers. Let’s make it a class-action suit!!

  40. Yet i would be reluctant to buy a ford. never been a ford guy, not happy with their current products, and if the ford retreads we get where i work are any indication, all fords are designed by people who had no prior experience doing anything really mechanical. no mechanical or design inclination whatsoever. yes, overseas hires (w…?) and women.
    junior did recommend millen (probly drinking buddies) and his criticism of millen ended millen’s term in lionland. junior should definitely slime lewand next.
    regarding hockey, they do have thugs too. but witness teh huge outcry when a hockey player referred publicly to an old girlfriend (a canadian celeb) as sloppy seconds. boom, you’re suspended. that strategy should be used on the nfl. clean it up. too many celebrations over nothing or less. too many overpaid hams who dont even consider direction.

  41. A couple points:
    2. Ford SR runs the Lions. He has not had anything to do with FORD MOTOR COMPANY since probably the 70’s.
    3. Yes, Ford Sr is a bad CEO, but only for the LIONS, he has NOTHING to do with FMC.
    4. FMC did NOT take any money from the Auto Bailout, and has no plans to do so.
    5. Lewand is an old family friend of the Fords, he is staying as long as Ford Sr is alive.

  42. Need to set a few things straight…William Clay Ford has had no major role on the Board of Directors of Ford since 2005 (son Bill resigned in September 2006). He has ineptly managed this franchise since the day he became the sole owner of the team…and has managed it into a coma that it may never recover from. The guy is 83 years old, and who knows when he’ll turn over the team to his son…theere may be a few options available that the league may use, but at a risk:
    1. Force WCF to sell the team, event to the point of revoking the team’s charter. He purchased the team in 1964 for $4.5 million, so he would make out on it’s sale. The team needs to be sold to someone that will keep it in Detroit, and restore it to contender.
    2. Somehow force control from WCF to his son Bill. I’m not sure that this is a realistic solution, because we don’t know if Bill would start changeing things to turn the team around.
    3. The NFL steps in and takes over the team (ala MLB did to the Montreal Expos, prior to their move to DC). This probably not work, since I don’t see too many teams out there wanting to chip in to keep a failing franchise going for any length of time. Pressure would be on the league to find an owner real quick.
    4. Revoke the team’s charter…shut them down. Don’t like that option, the fans get the shaft….
    Regardless of how it plays out, whomever gets this team (Bill Ford or someone else) needs to do a top to bottom review of the team (management, coaches, players) and clean house. Until WCF is out of the picture, the fans of Detroit will suffer…

  43. “Would be a better investment than what the banks are doing w/their bailout money ”
    Rachael, Ford is not receiving a bailout. GM and Chrysler are. Furthermore, the only connection between the Detroit Lions and Ford Motor Co. is the name; William Clay Ford does not run FoMoCo. CEO Alan Mullally does.

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