Tuesday, November 28, 2006

OK, OK -- I Admit It: Time For Millen To Go

Bill Ford Sr. is a man of loyalty. To a fault. It rankles him to have to sign off on a firing, which explains why some of the bozos who've coached the Lions -- Wayne Fontes included, even though Wayno had some good years here -- have overstayed their welcomes. Ford is the host who looks at his watch but hates to tell the overstaying guest that it's time to go.

Which is why I chuckle every time the simmering "Fire Matt Millen" stew boils over from time to time. Ford has never, that I know of or can recall, made a move based on fan reaction or outrage. It's one reason why he has been accused of being out of touch with his paying customers.

The thought that Lions president Millen might be fired soon, or has been fired, or will be fired at the end of the season, is taking on another dimension this time, however. Detroit News writer and occasional contributor to Motor Citys Sports Magazine, Terry Foster, wrote over the weekend that rumors of Millen's impending departure are hotter than normal, and have a little more substance to them this time around. The three scenarios Foster said were being knocked around include: 1) NOT firing Millen; 2) Firing him, as soon as this week; and 3) Blowing the whole thing up -- meaning that not only Millen, but top executive Tom Lewand and others would bite the dust, including (maybe) head coach Rod Marinelli and his staff. The Lions, in option #3, would be considered an expansion franchise and would receive help from the NFL in finding someone to commandeer the organization, from top to bottom.

Until #2 or #3 happens, though, the option that is being exercised is still #1.

I have been in the minority of folks -- and I admit, I use minority in the same way that I would call a 12 year-old child who likes liver a minority -- who have never been on the "Fire Millen" bandwagon. I haven't participated in marches, or worn the colors of the opposing football team, or wanted to stage a walkout during the game, or called in to yammer on sports talk radio about dismissing MM. Not only haven't I done those things, I've actually defended the man. One of my beefs with the whole "Fire Millen" movement is that not once have I ever heard a name tossed out as a possible replacement by that ilk.

"Who are you gonna get," I've asked many a Millen basher, "if the Lions were to give Matt Millen the ziggy?"

Not once have I heard a name mentioned in reply.

"I don't care! ANYONE!," is the usual response.

Sorry. Not good enough.

Until now.

Something Foster wrote struck home with me, and today causes me to call, for the the first time, for Matt Millen's removal as team president, and forthwith.

T Foster rightly points out that the time has come to make such a move, if only to at least plug the dam temporarily, which has burst and lost Lions supporters to frustration and apathy. It would be a move, Foster pointed out, that would perhaps bring some of those fans back. At least it might stop the hemorrhaging.

I must say that I agree this morning. It doesn't necessarily matter, right now, who the choice is to replace Matt Millen as Lions president and GM. His firing should be looked at as almost an act of compassion -- for the fans, for Millen himself, and for the organization as a whole. It just isn't going to work out, I fear, with Matt Millen running this football team. Perhaps I am tardy in this realization, granted. It might also spell the end of the Marinelli era before it began, because a new leader might want a new coach. Although, that recipe didn't work the last time the Lions tried a shakeup. Millen, after all, failed to keep Gary Moeller, and we saw how that turned out.

Could a new president/GM come in and win with Marinelli as his head coach? Sure. But right now the issue isn't the head coach. It's higher than that. And higher than even that. A fish stinks, the saying goes, starting at the head.

But the head isn't going anywhere, so at least you can throw out the rest of the fish. Might cut down on the smell some.

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