For those of you who care, I'm Bill, Andy's friend. He has invited me to contribute. Don't hate me.
Writers, fans, sports radio hosts, etc. have long provided explanations for the ever present pathetic fucking abortion of a football team we call the Detroit Lions. I've taken a step back and really given this topic some thought. And by taking a step back I mean that I've completely stopped caring about the Lions altogether (e.g. did not watch a single play of the Lions' last three games of 2007). Of course the World of Warcraft-related bedsores I have all over my body from continuous play over the past year certainly has something to do with my absence. God I hate myself.
Anyway, here is what I've come up with: In general, those who care about the Detroit Lions routinely blame Bill Ford Sr., Bill Ford Jr., Matt Millen, and any one of the coaches who have run through the ever-present carousel. I suppose the players have been subjected to some blame, but to a lesser extent. Typically, if a player underachieves, causes problems in the locker room, demonstrates lack of testicles or sustains an injury, those quality individuals running the team are criticized for acquiring the player in the first place.
So who really deserves the blame?
First of all, we can't hold the coaches responsible. Rod Marinelli currently has a team full of average to below average players who receive premium salaries, which has led to a lack of top-flight NFL starters and overall depth for most positions. With the most recent departures of Fernando Bryant, Big Baby, Kevin Jones, and Damian Woody among others, the Lions haven't managed to replace even the marginal talent they've lost. Rest assured that it won't be corrected in the draft.
Well, Wayne Fontes was the only coach who actually had enough talent on both sides of the ball to routinely field a playoff contender, but I won't blame him because he never should've been head coach in the first place. Bobby Ross was ok, but he quit midseason in 2000 and seemed generally frustrated with the organization. Good for him. Gary Moeller was fine as an interim coach. He posted a 4-3 record and remains the only Lions coach in the last 30 or so years to post a winning record. Moeller, of course, was replaced by Marty Mornhinwheg following the 2000 season by Matt Millen.
So Fontes, Moeller, and Ross all recieve a pass. Also, Mornhinwheg, Steve Mariucci, and Dick Jauron receive a pass for the same reason Marinelli gets one. Any coach who is left with the zeroes routinely acquired by Matt Millen shouldn't have to answer to anybody.
Ok, so after all Millen must be the one to blame. He's either hiring the wrong coach or if he does hire the right guy we wouldn't know because of his inability to draft, sign free agents, or appropriate funds in the direction of meaningful talent in any way, shape, or form. Anyone reading this right now doesn't need me to go into the man's innumerable blunders. You know and understand where I'm coming from.
By the way, I don't think Millen is to blame for the current state of the Detroit Lions. The reason is that he never should've been hired in the first place and once he demonstrated a measurable amount of incompetence he should have been fired. There is nothing about Matt Millen that makes him qualified to run a multi-million dollar business.
What is it about this guy that convinced the Fords he was the guy to hire? Ok, so his claim to fame is that he was an above average linebacker in the NFL. I guess he was an alright color guy for one of the networks. I don't remember which one.
Oh, I get it now. Millen was good at finding a guy who was carrying a football and then running toward him and bringing him down to the ground. So, because of Millen's unique ability to tackle a ball carrier, he must be the most qualified individual available to manage a salary cap, scout talent, draft players, hire a team of coaches, etc.
Using this logic, it would be reasonable for the board of directors of Subway to hire a sandwich maker as a CEO, because of the employee's unique ability to make a sandwich. In what way was Matt Millen more convincingly demonstrating the skills required to run an NFL franchise than the hypothetical sandwich maker was to head Subway?
It's not Millen's fault that he remains president of the Lions. One might think that he should realize his own lack of success and resign. I wouldn't resign if I was Matt Millen. Who else is going to hire him to run their football franchise?
So what I'm trying to say is that it must be the Fords' fault for failing to hire someone capable of running their franchise, right? No, actually, I'm not blaming William Clay Ford Sr. or Jr. either.
I don't blame either Ford because their rise to prominence had little to do with any particular attribute about themselves that indicated they were qualified to obtain leadership roles in one of the world's largest automotive companies. This, of course, led to their immense wealth which afforded Bill Sr. to purchase the Detroit Lions in 1964.
Fans have long complained about the inability of Lions' ownership to somehow field a Super Bowl caliber team, or at the very least a team that consistently makes a playoff run. But why should we expect so much of the Fords in the first place? They are only who they are because they were born into a prominent family. If you're the grandson or great-grandson of Henry Ford, all you have to do is not be a complete waste while growing up and you've landed yourself a leadership role in a Fortune 500 company.
It's not their fault that they were entitled to an NFL franchise if they wanted one, just because they were born rich. Have I used the word nepotism yet? Well, I'm not going to.
The way I see it, Bill Sr. and Bill Jr. are just a couple normal guys running our beloved Detroit Lions. We expect greatness out of a couple men who never needed to be anything special to get where they are. Henry Ford was a self-made, wildly successful man. Of course, that doesn't mean anyone falling into his family tree has the same recipe for success.
So why don't the Fords have enough sense to hire someone capable to run the Detroit Lions franchise? Why can't I think of something funny to write? Who knows? We expect them to make sound business decisions, but never have they had to make them in the past. Right now, the Lions, unlike Ford Motor Company, are making a huge profit. Only in the NFL can a franchise as poorly run as the Lions still make tons of money.
If we can't blame the players, the coaches, the team president and the ownership, then who can we blame? I guess we can only blame society. We live in a society where individuals are consistently given positions of leadership for reasons other than their qualifications. Anyone knows that leadership is an important part of the success of any company. Unfortunately for fans of the Detroit Lions, the leaders aren't leading them anywhere anytime soon, we have no one to blame, and there's nothing we can do about it.