by | Dec 22, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

You’ve got to be kidding.

William Clay Ford Sr., with the garbage product he disguises as a football team, actually said he wanted his two-headed front-office team to RETURN next year?

It’s beyond belief, isn’t it?

On a day when the Lions players showed how truly awful they had become, the owner one-upped them in ineptitude. It was like the owner of the Titanic, as the ship was sinking, announcing, “Next I’m gonna build an airplane.”

Ford wins the prize. He is the worst. He is the biggest problem in this franchise and easily the most maddening. The fact he can contemplate returning anybody or anything from what already has tied the worst single-season losing streak in NFL history is incomprehensible.

And yet there he was, telling a Booth Newspapers reporter before Sunday’s 42-7 loss that he wanted Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew back next year, possibly in their roles as chief operating officer and general manager. Those would be the current roles that have led to 0-15.

As for somebody new, somebody who could take total charge – the Bill Parcells-type guru fans have been praying for – Ford said: “Let’s see who’s available and what experience they have and see if they fit in any of our slots.”

What slots? Vice President of Losing? Chairman of Missed Tackles? General Manager of Blown Defenses?

There are no slots here. There is no organization. And nobody great will want to slide in beside Lewand and Mayhew. Mr. Ford, is there something about total failure that you simply can’t see? The place needs to be blown up.

And you first.

A time for bold action

Honestly. People have been waiting months for this hapless leader to say something. Show some direction. As NFL owners go, Ford already is perceived as Fredo in “The Godfather,” a guy with the right last name but little else to justify his power.

Now he proves it. This is the best he can do? Bring those two back?

No offense to Lewand, but he has been here 13 years. No offense to Mayhew, but he has been here eight. Both have been part of a lifeless machine that has sputtered, collapsed and crashed into historic failure. What on Earth qualifies them for next year?

This team needs a total makeover. Everybody out. Truth be told, it needs a new owner – but who can fire an owner? Among Ford’s many faults, the worst is his habit of staying with the wrong people too long. Russ Thomas. Matt Millen. And now, with the blinding glare of becoming the worst team in NFL history, he grasps for the same tilted steering wheel and says, in effect, “stay the course.”

Heck, he wouldn’t even knock Rod Marinelli.

“I’m leaving it open,” Ford said.

I thought that was how the Lions handled opposing receivers. Not how you ran a team.

The wrong side of history

But why expect anything else? On Sunday, the Lions’ utter incompetence was on full display, from men in ties to men in cleats. They began by giving up 60 yards on the opening kickoff, then allowed one Saints touchdown, another Saints touchdown and four more Saints touchdowns. New Orleans never had to punt.

“They’ve been fighting,” Marinelli said of his team. “They didn’t today.”

Right. Why fight today? Why fight when your pride and legacy are on the line? What possible motivation could they have had for playing hard Sunday at Ford Field?

No more pity. The Lions are not victims of cruel fate. They are simply bad. They lack the talent. They lack the coaching. Not to win a title.

To win a single game.

And Ford wants to keep things in place?

Blow it up. Ford has owned this team for 45 years and has one playoff victory. At that pace, he’ll be 118 when he gets another. Lions fans are like dogs jumping for a cat in a tree. The tree always will be tall, so the cat always will be safe. Ford owns the team. It drives you insane.

Perhaps the only answer is in the half-empty stadium Sunday. The games are already blacked out. Money is tight.

Why pay a dollar – or any attention – to this product anymore? The Lions are already the first NFL team to drop 15 of 15 in a season. Any thought that they would wake up from this bad dream before it really came true was silly.

And now, any thought that things will change may have been squashed by the blathering of an owner who, to put it politely, doesn’t have – and never has had – a clue.

Merry freaking Christmas.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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