The Detroit Lions didn't waste much time debunking a published article that quarterback Joey Harrington could be cut.
And they weren't exactly casual about it, either.
The team quickly descredited -- and quite frankly embarassed -- the Booth Newspaper article that indicated Detroit's signal caller could be on the way out. The article gained steam on internet message boards and even caught the attention of ESPN, which did some hardcore reporting of its own (they called the Lions' front office for comment) to determine its validity.
In the end, it didn't have any.
The article stated that Harrington was due a $3 million roster bonus in late February, and in addition to the financial burden, the Lions' coaching staff did not have faith in Harrington as the team's starting quarterback. Head coach Steve Mariucci was also listed as one of Harrington's detractors.
None of which is true, according to the team, which released a joint statement from Mariucci and Vice President Matt Millen.
"We have absolutely no intention of releasing Joey Harrington and there has been no organizational discussion about cutting Joey as suggested in the article. Joey had his best season this past year and we firmly believe that he will continue to improve. We consider the report baseless and untrue."
The team further annihilated the article by deflating the bonus theory, stating: "There is no roster bonus due to Harrington either in late February or early March."
One of the strongest denials of the article, however, was the accusation that former offensive coordinator Sherm Lewis, who retired from his post in January, was "forced out" of his position. The article charged that Lewis later wrote letters to several high-profile members of Lions' management that the team would never win with Harrington as a quarterback. All of which is also bogus, according to the Lions and Lewis.
"The suggestion that I sent letters to Mr. Ford, Bill Ford and Matt (Millen) regarding Joey (Harrington) is ludicrous," said a statement prepared by Lewis and the Lions. "I did not send any letters as indicated. To insinuate that my retirement is anything but my desire is equally absurd. No one in the organization knew anything about my retirement until the day after the Tennessee game when I informed Steve (Mariucci) of my intent to retire and spend more time with my family."
The timing of the article was odd, considering Harrington enjoyed his best season since joining the league. Harrington set career-high's in passing yardage (3,047), touchdowns (19), yards-per-attempt (6.23), completion-percentage (56.0) and overall passer rating (77.5).
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