Monday, December 22, 2008

Let's Just Hope That Ford Is Saying Everything Poorly

What is it they say about being careful of what you wish for?

A few weeks ago, I practically begged -- actually, I think I DID beg -- for Lions owner Bill Ford Sr. to say something, anything, about the state of his football team. You know, that whole winless 2008, one-win-in-more-than-a-year thing. It would be nice, I wrote, if Ford would prove to us that of all the bad things an owner can be indicted of, he's not guilty of the worst: that he doesn't care.

Maybe I like it better when he stays quiet.

It's not so much WHAT Ford said yesterday, reported first by Tom Kowalski and -- although it wasn't pleasant to read. It was what he DIDN'T say -- and how he DIDN'T phrase what he did say, when talking about the future of the franchise and that of COO Tom Lewand and acting GM Martin Mayhew.

To wit: when asked if the stench of a possible 0-16 season would mean that the Lions would blast a big hole in the vault and rescue what little credibility was left by hiring a "football guru", Ford said, "It depends. I don't know about the odds (of hiring a GM with total authority). Let's see who's available and what experience they have and see if they fit in any of our slots.''

OK, what he SHOULD have said: "I think that since the model of most winning teams has a brilliant football mind at the top, then we would be foolish not to look at that hard as a model for our organization."

Translated: I would like to emulate the Patriots and the Colts and bring that type of org chart to the Lions.

Fan reaction: Thank God.

When asked if he was happy with Mayhew's performance so far, Ford said, "Oh yeah, very.''

What he SHOULD have said: "Martin was placed in a very difficult situation and it's kind of unfair to judge his performance based on that. I appreciate his hard work."

Translated: An acting GM has no real influence over the on-field performance when he's brought in after three games have been played. So how can I answer that intelligently?

Fan reaction: That seems fair.

Finally -- and this is a biggie -- Ford said this when asked about the job security of head coach Rod Marinelli: "I don't know, I haven't made up my mind. I'm leaving it open.''

What he SHOULD have said: "We'll evaluate Rod at the end of the season, as we always do with our coaching staff."

Translated: What do you want me to do? Fire him now before I get a chance to talk to him and fire him in private?

Fan reaction: OK, but just see that you do it.

After reading Kowalski's scoop of a story, I'm trying to remain calm and level-headed. Three things pretty much set fans off: 1. The idea of doing things by committee -- one that would include Ford, Lewand, and Mayhew when it comes to the next hire; 2. The throwaway comment re: Mayhew's performance; and 3. The "leaving it open" remark re: Marinelli.

Here's, basically, what Ford is saying -- before you jump off the Ambassador Bridge: I want Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew around, in some capacity. We're going to hire a new football person. I haven't made up my mind yet about the coach.

I have no problem keeping Lewand. His side is business, and by all accounts he actually does a pretty good job with it. I can even tolerate Mayhew sticking around, though he's a Matt Millen Man -- as long as it's in a watered down, subordinate role. And I still truly believe that Marinelli will be canned. I think Ford's "leaving it open" comment was just a poor way of saying it. And it's making the fans crazy nervous.

But it's also obvious that I'm not in the majority.

The fan base wants everyone gone -- excluding maybe the poor secretaries and administrative assistants who are guilt-free here. The idea of Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew still being employed creeps people out. I understand that. But will we really care if those guys are still around if a new football man arrives and is given the authority that he needs? And will we care if they're here if a new coach is in place?

But here's where you might have me. Ford's hiring history has been as checkered as a chess board. And the new man might have to swallow being part of a committee with Lewand and Mayhew. That makes the job less attractive for the type of person this situation craves.

So we'll see. But the comments to Kowalski is far from a piece of candy in the fans' stockings this Christmas.

So shame on me for beseeching Ford to speak to us. What was I thinking?


Big Al said...

I hope you're right, Eno. Hell, you said it so well, YOU should be running point for WCF.

Unfortunately, Ford will never get the benefit of the doubt from me, or anyone else. As things stand, I have to take his words at face value.

Anonymous said...

No more benefit of the doubt here either. This means Lewand and Mayhew will be running at least 2/3 of the show, probably more and Marinelli has 50/50 chance of keeping his job. Add the two chances together, and you get EPIC FAIL again. I gave Marinelli the benefit of the doubt when he was hired, even though HE HAD NO HEAD COACHING EXPERIENCE which set off major alarms with me. Now we are talking about not brooming the entire staff from a 0-16 season? The whole world has gone mad. Mad I tell you.

Anonymous said...

Why did I ever start rooting for this sad sack of a franchise? I'll never know, but how do I break out of the death spiral and stop caring? Somebody put me out of my misery and move the team to Los Angeles. Help me, I can't stop myself.

Anonymous said...

The lions are a joke.