Good food. The presence of family. And the Holiday spirit. Lions' fans have many things to be thankful for on Thursday -- just not necessarily the product on the football field. As fans from around the country gather to watch Detroit play host to the Miami Dolphins, we've given disgruntled Lions' fans (is there any other kind?) to write an open letter to team president and decision maker Matt Millen about what they are not thankful for on Thanksgiving.
Lions fans, the floor is yours ...
Dear Mr. Millen,
I think I am most thankful for my time and money that I put into this team over his tenure as GM. Like the 3 jerseys I paid for that no longer play for the Lions, and the Saturdays of hope leading into Sundays to just get drunk and mad. Thanks so much for taking a mediocre team and making them 1,000 times worse, it makes me feel great whenever someone looks at me like I'm the elephant man whenever I have Lions gear on.
I'm not done.
I'm thankful for the way we've handled the free agent situation. So glad we
picked up Kevin Kasper those 2 weeks he was awesome, and Az Hakim and Bradford's
revolving door policy is tremendous. Also I'm not so much thankful but amazed at
the ability of this franchise to make 1st round draft picks just disappear.
Screw it. I don't care what happens at Thanksgiving or beyond as long as Matt is
Dear Mr. Millen,
I was a young man promised with a bright Detroit Lions future. I mean hell I witnessed the Lions get into the playoffs at 8-8 and we looked promising, especially with the direction we were going! Everything looked bright! Well, that was not the last time! Ever year we bring in what is seems superstar rookies and great coaches, yea! Never really made a huge impact in the FA market but that's ok, we already have talent and great coaches! Anyways let me get to the point, I use to be excited about football and the Lions! I want to thank you for diminishing my love for the game! You've made me less interested in not only the Lions (which believe me at the young age of 14 I was obsessed and very very passionate, should have seen my room with Joey and Crog posters) but football its self! I use to be filled with anxiety until Sunday got here, now days Sundays just a day off! So all in all Mr. Millen, thank you for making my Sunday anything but a day for Detroit Lions football.
- Bruce 18, SVSU Student
I'm thankful for the tough skin you've given me. It's kinda like the boy named sue. Because you have built such a horrid excuse for a football team for me to root for, I've become a stronger all around sports fan and person. I am so used to disappointment that no sports let down can affect me any more. My own internal feelings of disgust with this team combined with the tremendous abuse I get from my friends that are fans of real teams has given me the fortitude of 10,000 normal fans.
So thanks. You are great at life. Really.
I'm not thankful for another double digit losing season. The 5th in a row since you've taken over. I'm also not thankful for another top ten pick that will sit on the bench or suck and then get cut. What I'm really the least thankful for is another football season that I could care less about after week 8.
Mr. Millen for the 1st time I don't even care about next season, which will be a waste if you're still around. I'm not thankful that you took a 9-7 team that was in the playoff hunt every year and turned them into the most mocked team in all of sports. I can't even be excited about the off season because you will blow the draft pick, and sign a bunch of no name scrubs that will make the team even worse.
What I, as a lifelong Lion fan, am not thankful for this year is the death of hope.
Yes, in a holiday season that is the hallmark of reflection upon blessings past and hopefulness of the same or better for the future, you have left us with neither.
Like a turkey left in the oven 2 hours too long, the words from you and your coaches are dry in our mouths, requiring copious amounts or either alcohol or gullibility to digest.
For six years, we have heard words like "improvement" or " playing hard" or "pride" or "fundamentals" or "progress". All have lost their meaning under your reign, as they are often used but rarely displayed.
Hope comes from seeing many of these platitudes displayed on the field. Hope comes from seeing the players adopt that winning attitude even when losing. Hope arises from defeat when there is any sign that the future may be better than the past or present, no matter how painful they may be.
Not only does every team you have put on the field lose, and lose more often than any club in any 6 year stretch in NFL history, they don't look any better doing so now than six years ago.
Even routinely horrible teams get to look forward, in hopefulness, to the future, as the ability to restock their depleted rosters comes around in April with the draft. Here, Matt, here is exactly where the chalk outline is drawn around hope for the Lions faithful.
Normally a bad team's long suffering fans can point towards with hope, discuss with anticipation, and look forward to improvement by grabbing one of the best players coming into the league and see them in short order help turn things around. Yet Lions fans have been treated to not only all of the dismal results on the field, but dismal, hope killing, salary cap killing results by you personally, year after year after year.
THIS, Matt, this is what kills hope. Demonstratable, consistent futility not only on the field by players and coaches, but futility in April when the club should be getting better...and it gets worse.
What am I not thankful for? I am most definitely not thankful that despite the inordinate amount of (wasted) time watching and discussing the team, the undeserved loyalty and passion being expended and exploited, and many thousands of dollars laid out for tickets and gear, I have no longer any energy or inclination to either care for or trust in the future of this organization with you at the helm.
Hope is a difficult thing to kill, Matt. Congratulations on your only job well done.
Most unthankfully yours,
Lions fans everywhere and this exhausted one in particular.
Acting in accordance with original intent of the note, I'll tell you what I AM thankful for. I am sincerely thankful that you work in the capacity you currently do and not with me.
the poster named after scottie anderson
As the 20th century came to an end and the early 21st saw your ascension as Lion's GM I thought the organization's futile efforts at respectability had come to an end. Surely things would change at last. I should have known better.
I am 'not' thankful that by your gross incompetence the Lion's organization has reached yet a new nadir. Your coaching carousel and idiotic free agent signings have done little to improve the team's win/loss record and much to enrich those unable to contribute to the teams success. And your consistently unproductive draft choices has ensured the Lion's continued mediocrity for many years to come.
The Lion's Thanksgiving Day game-playing tradition is now in danger of being overshadowed by its tradition of futility and mediocrity. And we owe much of this to your organizational skill and player personnel genius.
I say these things with all 'due' respect. Happy Holidays!
Dear Mr. Millen.
I am going to go off on you. I know that you have had some gaffes. I also realize that listing those gaffes would take at least 2 or 3 more servers worth of text space onto the Scout network. I realize that you are an idiot. I also realize that you cannot sign a set of quality FA's and has drafted 60 some players and have only less than a handful that are not only still playing, but are playing well. You finally do something right in getting Marinelli, and thus Mike Martz and Donnie Henderson.
What I should not be thankful for is the worst 6 years in any sport's history. You, my ill-timed friend, do not know how to run a football team. you should have stayed in the booth, and not even tried to run this team. Honestly, the team would have been better off without you.
If you give anything to long sufferring Lions fans for their respective Winter holidays, fire yourself. Quit. Man-up and admit that you are the worst GM in the history of the position.
Dear Mr. Millen,
I would like to say I am not thankful for your continuation of service to the Detroit Lions. I also am not thankful for the fact that you still do not understand that not everybody is cut out to be a GM in the NFL, even if you were a heck of an announcer or player. I am not thankful that you still don't see that after five going on six highly unsuccessful attempts to finish with a winning record or a pick that is not within the top 10, you may be one of those people.
I am not thankful that you ever left that job as an announcer and while I'm all for advancement in the workplace I'm not thankful that you were never taught that if you are not qualified or you can't do the job, you should not take it...even if the money is better.
I can't imagine how any fan of any of the 31 other NFL teams would feel if they heard you were being hired and I am not thankful that those fans more than likely breathe a sigh of relief when they know that as bad as things get:
They don't have Matt Millen as their GM.
I am not thankful for you going back on your word. You remember? You once said that if a GM can't take a team to the Super Bowl in FIVE years he should get out of town. We're going on six and we've yet to pick out of the top 10 of the draft on your watch and after today's debacle to what many used to think was the worst team in football...it's clear that we're not only there again, we may be leading the pack in one thing: draft position.
Oh, and with the exception of Roy and Shaun Rogers, I'm not truly thankful for ANY of your draft selections...While we're talking Thanksgiving...Let's stay on the food theme...what did Meatloaf say? "two out of three aint bad"? I wonder how he'd feel about two out of fifty.
I am not thankful for your continued and bold attempt to prove you have been anything short of the worst GM in Detroit sports history, if not NFL history or even sports history, by sticking around. I'm not thankful that you can't do simple math and understand that it would take three 16-0 seasons to get your record anywhere NEAR .500 as a GM.
I'm not thankful Joe Harrington was traded and a lot of that was based on the fact that the fans disliked him, his lack of leadership and poor won/loss record and you're still here who mirrors if not out right exceeds Harrington in every one of those things at this point.
I'm not thankful you that you can't see that you've already set this franchise back another 5 years after you leave so we can get rid of all the crap you've brought in and am as equally not thankful that based on that alone, if you had a single care for this organization in the long term, I'm not thankful you can't reexamine the situation and come to grips with the fact that sometimes when you're this bad and the damage is this severe you have to let it go and free the team of your presence.
I'm not thankful that it took you this long to figure out the best names in the world do not assure team unity and harmony where it counts, when the chips are down and am not thankful you didn't understand that there was a reason experienced guys like Bobby Ross passed on guys with character issues (Randy Moss) in the draft and that was because more often than not....those types of guys don't work out (See Mike Williams and Charles Rogers).
I'm not thankful that you're still here and any sane Lions fan who has tuned into a single game since September of 2001 will echo that sentiment and has seen just how putrid this team has been and I'm not thankful you don't understand how we're all just flat out sick and tired of losing, draft bust, you and a constant let down each and ever week....Well, make that all of us except for you.
And that's another thing: I'm not thankful for the only thing we're good at under you is losing and everybody who has any idea about football knows THIS is your team. All the Ross busts are gone, all the bad coaching is gone all the players on Sunday were hand selected by you. And the vast majority of them are horrid.
I'm not thankful for the fact that you don't see these guys you drafted could have maybe played well elsewhere and are wasting the best years of their football careers (well, some of them may have a couple decent years) because they see incompetence at the top of organization and if the guy who drafted them gets so many chances...what's the point of them working hard because they're going to get chance and chance again, like you have.
I'm not thankful you still can't figure it out.
In closing I would like to say....
It was once said a winner never quits...Mr. Millen...You're not a winner.
Thank you for putting such an incredibly poor product on the field for so long that I have actually been able to free myself from my sick Lions addiction. I haven't watched a game in weeks. I love it I'm free. Now, if you can keep up the crappy job for a while longer maybe I can free myself from checking in here at the Den.
1. I'm not thankful for you making the Lions the laughing stock of ALL major league sports.
2. I'm not thankful for your 23 - 67 record.
3. I'm not thankful for the 18,900 minutes wasted watching this team since you took over.
While I am pleased with Mike Furrey and Dan Campbell, and thank you for them, I am not thankful for the following:
1) Rod Marinelli. I realize that you don't feel prior experience even close to the responsibilities of the job should be necessary in looking for the "right" guy to lead the Lions, but I was skeptical at the time you named Rod and now I'm downright ticked off.
2) Jon Kitna. I supported getting rid of Joey and I actually supported bringing in Kitna. But, I'd hoped you would ALSO bring in a good young stud QB to understudy. Carson Palmer -- of USC -- learned under Kitna. You could have had Matt Leinart -- Carson's successor at USC -- to learn under Kitna here -- you didn't do it. Now ... our QB situation -- again --- is totally cloudy for the foreseeable future. No thanks.
3) Personnel holes outside of QB: Defense first. We ALL recognize that football is about a lot more than just the QB. So, I'd hoped you would do some good things in the other spots, especially defense.
a) Installing the Tampa-2, it was clear you needed a truly good pass-rush DE (or at least it was highly preferable to get one). Instead, you re-sign Kalimba to a big contract -- a guy who had 1 sack in his last 8 games in 2005, a contract year.
b) You let Earl Holmes go -- understandable as he was too slow to be a MLB in a Tampa-2 system and pass defense. But, you didn't bother to get an MLB suited to the system. Instead you hoped Boss or Lehman or maybe Lenon could convert to the middle. Well, Boss in particular was never known as a truly solid tackler nor as a guy good at sifting through traffic and avoiding or shedding blocks. And Boss played crappy in 2005. Shame on you. No thanks, Matt.
c) At CB, you let depth guys like McQuarters and Goodman leave. This was OK by me. BUT, you didn't upgrade them!! Instead, you brought in a guy in Fletcher who had an even worse track record. And, you relied on young Smith and Wilson to step up. Smith played like crap in 2005, and no one seems to feel Wilson was worthy of playing time. Oh ... and you relied on Jon McGraw to perhaps play nickel even though he's a safety and pretty crappy at everything. Donnie must have known -- or should have known. Pathetic. NO thanks.
4) On offense, you showed nice insight on Mike Furrey. But he's still more of a Ricky Proehl type and even Martz never suggested that he wanted Furrey on the outside. But, even though you felt Charles and Mike were done -- and admirably shelved your own ego in permitting the team to move on without either of them -- again ... you didn't really do anything to get a truly good weapon opposite Roy. Bradford -- a guy who lost his starting job to Gaffney -- himself a guy who was cut before the season (but landed as depth somewhere else). Well, Bradford proved to be crap and he was cut in September, though re-signed last week. The Martz offense doesn't make the most of mediocre weapons. Rather, it takes great weapons and makes the most of them. We're missing a crucial wheel for our offense. No thanks, Matt.
5) The OL. You spent a boatload of money to keep Backus. I opposed that move as I think he is at best "average" -- but I live with it and won't dwell on it here. You needed a LG and a RT, at the very least (graciously letting you have Raiola without complaining about him in this post). You brought in 3 guys in Verba, Tucker and Stokes who had a combined 38 starts since 2002 -- none of them started more than 1/3 of the games in that 3 year period. I think that's about right, anyway. Thanks, but no thanks.
6) The draft. Because you signed McCown along with Kitna, I knew you wouldn't draft a QB on draft day (at least Day One). But, I was disappointed that you took that route. You took Sims -- who seemed to have the attitude and skills and speed your HC treasured. But, with Lehman, Lewis, Boss, Lenon, JDavis, and Curry, it seemed like you already had a boatload of OLBs, some of whom seemed promising. At safety, you took Bullocks in Round 2, which seemed like a possible reach, but liked the pick. Thanks. But, still, you took a RB in Round 3 instead of an OL or trading around to land an OL guy. That seemed unwise. And, if YOU were pretty sure neither Mike nor Charles would be contributing to the team in 2006, well, a WR might have been nice too (though clearly fans would have scratched their collective heads). I hope Jon Scott works out. If not, it may again be a totally empty Day Two -- as so often happened for you in the past. No thanks.
Accountability. When someone starts a comment with the phrase "with all due respect" -- you know they're about to say something disrespectful. And ... when someone with responsibility and authority starts talking about "accountability" or supposedly "accepting responsibility" -- you know that what's really going on is an effort to NOT be held accountable. Keep your job; keep doing the job roughly as you have in the past. We understand the coded language.
Thanks ... but no thanks.
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