A winless season, years of futility and constant underachieving are all triggers of mass change in professional sports.
The Lions have experienced all of the above but have decided to make only minimal changes in their front office, drawing the ire of fans – many hoping the Lions would bring in one of the league's highly-regarded executives to act as general manager.
Names like Scott Pioli, Bill Cowher, Floyd Reese and Bill Polian were included on some fan wish lists, instead that position has been given to Martin Mayhew, who has been a member of the team's front office since 2001.
Although the move has not appeased frustrated fans, it is not necessarily the wrong decision.
The change that was most needed already occurred early in the season, when Matt Millen was fired. Many view Mayhew as an extension of Millen but that assumption could be disputed after Mayhew expressed his displeasure with the lack of size and strength on the defense. Those recent comments provided a glimpse into Mayhew's philosophy as well as evidence that he was not happy with the way the team was constructed under Millen.
Although not a well-known name, Mayhew is viewed with high-regard amongst some league circles.
"An old scouting friend who I have known and respected for many years (Mike Keller) couldn't say enough good things about Martin's abilities," said Tom Marino, a Scout.com analyst and former league scout of over 30 years. "If he were to be let go, the Lions would be losing out on a top-notch guy, who would have another NFL job, in a matter of days."
Also, in the summer of 2004, Sports Illustrated ranked Mayhew among the "Top 101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports."
Martin Mayhew might have been a part of Matt Millen's atrocious track record, but he isn't responsible for it.
Paul Sancya / AP Photo
When Mayhew took over for Millen this year, he was in a no-win situation.
"He's is currently in a gun battle with an empty clip," added Marino, speaking before the regular season ended.
Mayhew made the best out of a bad situation and pulled off, what appears to be, an extremely lopsided trade when he exchanged receiver Roy Williams for a first-and-third round selection from Dallas in this year's draft.
Mayhew and team president Tom Lewand have already stated that the team will attempt to build via the draft, making any draft choice -- especially the two they'll now have in the first-round -- absolutely golden to the team's rebuilding.
Having the opportunity to witness the mistakes of the previous regime should also assist Mayhew in his attempt to avoid the same blunders.
He previously served a nine-month internship in the Washington Redskins' pro personnel department in 1999, giving him exposure to the talent-evaluation aspect of the game.
There is no denying that change is needed for this bottom-dwelling organization and, for many fans, Mayhew represents familiarity.
The truth is, Mayhew's promotion will prompt a large turnover for this team's roster.
So, put your anger on hold – at least during the offseason – as Mayhew is not Millen and certainly couldn't do a worse job.