Millen, Mornhinweg will return in 2003

If he's nothing else, William Clay Ford, Sr. is patient and loyal. He displayed both qualities today, deciding to stay with the Millen/Mornhinweg regime despite the two being repsonsible for the worst two-year period in franchise history.

(ALLEN PARK, MI) has learned that the Detroit Lions will retain both Matt Millen and Marty Mornhinweg for another season of Lions football.

Owner William Clay Ford, Sr. decided to stick with the pair despite drawing interest in their positions from former Minnesota Vikings head coach Dennis Green, Super Bowl championship coach Bill Parcells, Super Bowl championship president Ron Wolf and former New Orleans Saints general manager Randy Mueller.

Millen and Mornhinweg have combined for a 5-27 won-loss record (2-14 in 2001 and 3-13 in 2002) over the two years that they have been in charge of the franchise.

An exodus of talent, numerous injuries to key players and controversy surrounding their decisions has marked their two-year period.

After being named president and general manager of the team, Millen moved quickly to jettison injured veteran players like Stephen Boyd, Ron Rice, Terry Fair and others. Millen also rid the team of players that he didn't feel fit into the west coast offense, like starting quarterback Charlie Batch, tackle Mike Compton, and tight end David Sloan.

Most controversial was his decision to rid the team of players he felt were too expensive like young star guard Jeff Hartings and wide receiver Johnnie Morton, both fixtures on the last playoff team Detroit fielded. Millen also cut undrafted free agent running back James Mungro who went on to help the Indianapolis Colts to a playoff spot.

Millen also was criticized for going on Mike Ditka's sports talk radio show where he criticized a then un-named player for being "a devout coward."

Mornhinweg was ridiculed for electing to kickoff in an overtime contest on the road against the Chicago Bears. The Bears took the ball down the field and kicked the winning field goal without Detroit ever regaining possession. That helped Detroit finish their second consecutive season without a road win.

Many felt the interest from Parcells, Wolf, Green and Mueller would be too tempting to keep the pair in their respective positions, but the elder Ford elected to give the men another year to attempt to turn the situation around.

Earlier in the week, Millen fired executive director of player personnel Bill Tobin who angrily denounced the move, saying he would stack his record up against anyone in the organization.

Tobin was suspected of attempting a coup in the organization to replace Millen, but Ford Sr. would have none of it.

"You move forward with conviction. Then you've got to get some players," said Millen in the announcement.

With regard to the return of Marty Mornhinweg, Millen stated. "He's still a bright guy. The reasons I hired him still exist and we move forward."

Detroit holds the #2 overall pick in the draft by virtue of their 3-13 finish.

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