Hatchet Man: Is Millen clearing space for Mooch?

Lions' vice president Matt Millen continues to add by subtraction, at least according to him. However, Millen's recent house cleaning better produce results, otherwise he'll be the one receiving the hatchet.

(ALLEN PARK, MI) -- Matt Millen has his hatchet out again, but he's aiming it in the wrong direction.

When things go wrong, Millen's reaction is to hack away until something changes. The last two victims of Millen's failings have been vice-presidents Bill Tobin and Kevin Warren.

Millen did the same things when he was hired as the Lions President and CEO two years ago. Down went Steve Reaven, director of media relations, down went Chuck Schmidt, executive vice-president and CEO, down when Larry Lee, vice-president of community relations.

This time, though, Millen is axing his own guys.

Kevin Warren was the first hire Millen ever made. At the time, Millen said that Warren would be a key guy in rebuilding the Lions into a champion. But a funny thing happened. Warren, who was to handle the day-to-day operations of the team, found himself competing for responsibility with Tom Lewand, the Lions vice-president of finance. Duties were never clearly defined. Lewand was supposed to be taking care of the construction of Ford Field, but he was also negotiating contracts. A real flap arose when agents claimed that they couldn't solidify deals because Warren was unavailable, a charge he vehemently denied.

Warren got the hatchet.

Bill Tobin was Millen's hand picked guy to lead the franchise's player personnel department and Tobin responded beautifully. His first two drafts were masterworks for Detroit. Tobin restocked the team with exciting young talent like Joey Harrington, Kalimba Edwards, Jeff Backus, Chris Cash and others who figure to be the cornerstone of the franchise in two years. Yet, Tobin is out. After Millen allowed coach Marty Mornhinweg to fire Tobin's brother, things were never the same. Tobin is believed to have made a power play for Millen's job and came up craps.

Tobin got the hatchet.

Mornhinweg, meanwhile, is 5-27 in two years as Lions coach. And rumors that won't die that Mornhinweg is next to feel Millen's hatchet. Millen has just one chance to win, and that is in 2003. Lions ownership is not happy with Millen's "rebuild by destruction" plan's results.

The rumor mill claims that Millen is clearing space to allow Mariucci to join him in Detroit as vice-president and director of player personnel. Word is that the two have already spoken several times, but Mariucci is unsure if he wants to coach again this soon and that he's leaning towards taking a year off to do television work. At least that's what he told his good friend, Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo.

C'mon Steve, join the team. The next time the hatchet swings, its going to be pointed at Millen.

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