Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Finally, A Name For The Lions' New President: Don Shula

The Lions, for all of their warts, have actually a fairly impressive list of former assistant coaches who've gone on to bigger and better things as head coaches in the NFL.

Don't believe me?

Well, how's this, for starters: Bill Belichik. Jerry Glanville. Chuck Knox. All accomplished, in some way, shape or form, in the league as head coaches. And all sowed their oats as Lions assistants. As Casey Stengel would say, "You can look it up."

Oh yeah -- one more: Don Shula.

Shula coached Lions defensive backs in the early sixties, his first coaching job in the NFL after he retired as a player with the Colts. By all accounts, his skills and aura took shape in Detroit, before he was whisked away by the Colts to be their head coach in the mid-sixties. And we all know what happened from there.

I bring Don Shula up today, because if the Lions are considering replacing Matt Millen -- and for all we know they aren't even close -- then I would like to submit Shula's name as the Lions' next president.

As you know, I've bashed Millen bashers for never having anyone truly in mind when they call for his ouster. It's never been enough, in my mind, to simply toss your arms in the air and say, "ANYONE at this point!"

Well, now you don't have to do that if you're calling for Millen's head, because now I have a name for you. And a good one.

Forget, for a moment, whether Don Shula would even consider the job. And I think he might. But regardless, it occurred to me that the Lions' next commander of the ship should be either a hotshot young executive who's learned his trade in a winning organization, like the Patriots or the Colts or the Cowboys or the Seahawks, or a grizzled veteran NFL guy who knows a thing or two about winning pro football.

Now, the second of those choices, ideally, would be an older coach who's ready to call it a career on the sidelines soon, and for whom a front office position, with total authority, would be attractive. A Mike Holmgren or Bill Parcells type. Someone who's been in the league recently.

The next best choice is someone like Shula, who has known nothing BUT winning in the NFL, both with the Colts and the Miami Dolphins. He still has ties to the Detroit area, with his Shula's Steakhouse in Troy. And Detroit is where his post-playing career -- a Hall of Fame career, by the way -- began.

So how about bringing it full circle for Don Shula? Give him the keys to the executive washroom, get out of his way, and let him bring in other sharp, respected minds who would consider it an honor to work for him. He could be the team's Yoda, and the others he would bring in could be the sharp warriors.

There it is, you anti-Millen folks: a name to attach to your cause. Don Shula.

The Lions could do far worse, you know. They have, on many occasions.

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