“If there were other forces at work, then Millen, as the boss, certainly had the authority and wherewithall to eliminate them, or at least dilute them.”


Maybe it’s all going to come out in the book.

Wince if you will, but if former Lions president Matt Millen were to write a book about his experiences, the copies would fly off the shelves in metro Detroit.

A book might be in the works, because Millen isn’t saying much publicly.

He had a chance on NBC over the weekend, posing as a studio analyst, when he was hit with some queries about that 31-84 record the Lions posted under his watch.

He was about as revealing as an Amish belly dancer.

I won’t even bother to summarize the quotes; I’m sure you’ve read them. But they boil down to this: “I’m to blame.”

All together now — DUH!!

Millen hinted that other forces were in play, but that to reveal them would be like making excuses. Riiight.

Millen's cryptic remarks fall woefully short
Millen's cryptic remarks fall woefully short

There was another instance when a square peg failed in a round hole in Detroit, but that peg never shied away from telling us why he didn’t fit.

Dick Vitale pulled a reverse Millen — or rather, Millen pulled a reverse Vitale. Dickie was a coach and de facto GM, then became a TV blabbermouth. Matt Millen did it backwards from that, but both were unmitigated disasters.

You could almost argue that Vitale’s damage was greater in scope, simply because he was in charge of the Pistons for such a short period of time. Yet he set the franchise back a decade. No joke.

Dickie became coach in 1978, won a power struggle shortly thereafter with GM Bob Kauffman, then was, in essence, his own GM. Vitale made trades like you and I used to do with bubble gum cards. He was fired in November 1979, some 18 months after he was hired. In his wake, he left the Pistons talent-less, bereft of draft choices, and light years behind the Boston Celtics, thanks to his bad bubble gum trades.

But Vitale took his indictment like a man. A loud man, but a man nonetheless. He knew it wasn’t enough to simply blame himself. He expounded.

“I tried to do too much too soon,” Vitale has said in the past. And this: “I wasn’t patient. Mr. Davidson did me a favor by firing me. I might have killed myself.” Dickie was talking about his own physical well-being. And this: “Red Auerbach owes me a couple of those championship rings, I think.”

Point being, Vitale has gone on record many times about his failure in Detroit. He was a college coach who had no business being on an NBA sideline, much less in one of its front offices. And he knows it. He makes no bones about why he didn’t get the job done. He never made cryptic remarks about other forces or hinted that there was more to the story than met the eye.

Matt Millen had total control over everything football while he worked for the Lions. Like Vitale, he was left unsupervised, with no checks and balances whatsoever. To even suggest that there could be “other things” that were going on that contributed to his 31-84 record is absurd. If you’re the boss, then you’re the boss. The only thing that could fall under the category of “other” would be incessant butting in from owner Bill Ford Sr. And I find that highly suspect, save for a few “suggestions” here and there. You think that the reclusive Ford is, at the same time, the REAL wizard behind the curtain, pulling the knobs and pressing the buttons? Please.

If there were other forces at work, then Millen, as the boss, certainly had the authority and wherewithall to eliminate them, or at least dilute them. He had hiring and firing power. He could have tossed out any bad apples. But do you recall a bunch of firings during his tenure, aside from some coaches? Any scouting or personnel purges? Me neither.

So maybe Millen is, indeed, going to write a book about his time with the Lions.

The thing is, where will they place it? Fiction or non-fiction section?

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