Having covered the Detroit Lions for the better part of the last decade, I've been privy to some of the more pathetic organizational blunders in professional sports history.
That isn't hearsay, either. When a team hasn't posted a winning season in eight years, hasn't won a playoff game in nearly 20, and has capped that misery with the most surefire evidence of complete and utter failure (see: 0-16), it isn't by poor luck.
It's by being completely incompetent.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your Detroit Lions ...
So I've watched the Lions accomplish what no other team could, which was stop Barry Sanders on the football field.
I've watched them hire a broadcast analyst to run an entire franchise. I witnessed that man's constant failures go unpunished, resulting in almost 10 years' worth of alternate uses for paper bags.
After this year, they might be switched to plastic.
But today's moves take the proverbial cake. And Lions fans, I want you to listen closely to this next line because it's the undeniable truth: William Clay Ford Sr. wants you to eat it.
During the silliness that occurred today, Ford Sr. -- in a move that wreaks of senility or stupidity (I'll let you decide which) -- promoted interim Martin Mayhew to full General Manager status and chief negotiator Tom Lewand to Team President.
Instead of performing due diligence, and at least interviewing more qualified GM candidates; instead of doing what is honest, fair, and expected; instead of using any semblance of common sense, Ford Sr. decided that it would be better to give fans the business equivalent of the middle finger.
He's the same type of businessman that flies to Washington D.C. in a private jet to beg for money. I think you get the point.
Let me break all of this down for you with six words: every sad, pathetic, and inexcusable thing that has led to the worst season in professional sports history? Ford just gave it a pass.
He just said that it's OK. Hold no one responsible.
It's OK that the Lions are the most miserable franchise since the origins of athletic competition.
In fact, failure isn't only OK, it should be rewarded!
Instead of doing a complete house-cleaning, from Mayhew and Lewand down to the cleaning crew, Ford decided to keep everyone in place. After all, in Ford's eyes, if you're part of the problem, then you're part of the solution.
Ford makes Marinelli the fall guy
Say what you want about Rod Marinelli, but if you question his integrity, then stop reading this column.
A war veteran, Marinelli spent three years with a collection of players assembled by the most assanine excuse for a team president that Ford money could buy. You can coach many things in professional sports (Marinelli did them all), but you can't coach talent.
Rod Marinelli's 10-38 mark as head coach didn't win him much support, but he's hardly to blame for the ineptitude of an entire franchise.
Matthew Stockman / Getty Images
He attempted to bring in his own guys from Tampa Bay, hoping that his patchwork team could make up for the crater-sized shortcomings that come along with consecutive years of failed drafts and otherwise poor personnel decisions.
Turning lemons into lemonade only works in bad Disney movies and cliché, motivational speak. And it certainly doesn't work in the National Football League.
So if you want to blame anyone for 0-16, just make sure you leave Rod Marinelli out of the equation. It isn't his fault that the 2008 Detroit Lions were built Ford Stupid.
Upon his dismissal on Monday, Marinelli preached that there were worse things in life than 0-16. He's right. In a season that would push any human to the brink, he always maintained a balance of righteousness, squeezing whatever virtue he could from an abominable situation.
Even when his team continued to lose.
Even when some crack reporter from a Detroit rag attempted to insult his family (and intelligence, by issuing a silly apology later).
Even when he was fired for something that he ultimately wasn't responsible for.
Integrity? Virtue? Honor? William Clay Ford Sr.'s Webster's has a thicker layer of dust than his trophy case.
Matt Millen Lives On
Whether it's ironic or just sad, the interesting thing about the retention of Martin Mayhew is that he was (are you ready for this?) Matt Millen's first hire upon taking the job as Lions president.
That may not be fair for Mayhew to wear that scarlett letter, but it's nevertheless the truth. Everything that has marred the Lions since the turn of the century -- Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington, Mike Williams, Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, everything -- has involved Martin Mayhew.
Many league analysts consider Mayhew well-respected, and potentially capable of running a successful franchise in the NFL. Some day, at least. But if there was ever an example of necessary collateral damage, it would be Mayhew.
Ford Sr. will retain two guys who survived the Millen-era in Tom Lewand (far right) and Martin Mayhew.
Whether justifiable or not (and it's not), he is simply part of the sad, borderline sadistic legacy that is the reign of Matt Millen.
Oh, and he's now officially running the Detroit Lions.
Tom Lewand, meanwhile, achieved the tag of 'Team President,' really by no other means than his lone survival skill, the one thing that matters most to Ford: penny pinching.
Lewand has been the team's chief negotiator and salary cap guru since the mid-90's. He also handles all things related to the Lions, and certainly has a say in what and what is not affordable in the team's budget.
Just the fact that he's been a part of this disastrous chapter in Lions history is reason enough to let him find work elsewhere. But Ford's blind loyalty guarantees job security to an individual that would be on the unemployment line if this were any other job, any other company, or on planet Earth.
It's difficult to go anywhere but up if you finish the season 0-16, but if there's anything capable of proving otherwise, it's Detroit Lions football.
The same collection of fools that brought you a brand of football that can hardly be considered professional, will remain.
Albert Einstein once quipped that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
He must have been wearing a Lions shirt when he thought of it.