You know what they say. If you want something done, leave it to a woman.
Martha Ford, today, officially launched her campaign to be Michigan’s next governor.
At approximately 11:30 this morning, according to sources, Mrs. Ford, owner of the Detroit Lions, made a giant leap toward clearing her family’s name.
Mrs. Ford summarily dismissed team President Tom Lewand and General Manager Martin Mayhew in a move that at once was shocking and filled with common sense—because, well, these are the Lions and what is common sense in 31 other NFL cities is mind-blowing in Detroit.
Lewand and Mayhew, Lions employees during the Matt Millen Era, are gone.
Mrs. Ford put an end to the in-breeding.
As sweeping as these changes are, and as welcome as they are by a fan base that has suffered through decades of football ignominy, it’s still not totally safe to be a Lions fan.
The canning of Lewand and Mayhew is justified and overdue but this is only the first step toward cleansing.
The next move—the hiring of a new football czar in Detroit—is the real biggie.
But make no mistake. Mrs. Ford’s lowering the boom today—four days after she was embarrassed in front of friends and family by her team’s performance in London—is monumental.
This is not her husband’s football team anymore.
This afternoon, Lions fans feel like the folks who slowly and cautiously emerge from their cellars after a big tornado swept through town.
The sky is sunny, the air is calm and the birds are chirping. But all around, there are remnants of the storm’s destruction.
The feeling is, OK, the damage has been done, but where do we start the clean up?
Mrs. Ford finally put an end to the tornado that was Matt Millen, because Lewand and Mayhew were Millen lieutenants. They always had that stench on them, and in seven years of running the Lions, neither man could shake the stench.
After seven years, it was still impossible to look at Lewand or Mayhew and not see the ghost of Matt Millen.
That’s because the Lions are, today, not that much closer to winning a Super Bowl as they were when Millen got the ziggy early in the 2008 season.
Since that day—which was almost as glorious as this one—the Lions have made dozens of draft picks, signed a million free agents and made countless trades. They have fired two coaches and hired two more. They have had a quarterback throw for 5,000 yards and a receiver break the NFL single season record for yards.
And today the Lions are 1-7, non-competitive and the coach and the no. 2 receiver seem to be taking the media and the fans to task more than themselves.
If Jim Caldwell, who may be next to go, thinks the Detroit media is negative, then he must have the skin of an onion.
If Golden Tate thinks that the fans quit on his team, then there is a disconnect and a lack of accountability that was never going to be rectified under the current regime.
Like the Joker said in the 1989 version of “Batman,” this town needs an enema.
A football enema, right up the tight end.
The firings today are a great step forward. They were moves that probably would have not been made by Old Man Ford, were he alive today.
There were two L-words that Bill Ford will always be known for. Loyalty, and losing.
Today, Mrs. Ford shook the team’s history, its foundation and its self-afflicting ways to their core.
Still, that was the easy part. Pro sports is a produce-or-else business. It just hasn’t always been like that with the Lions. They’ve been notoriously slow on the uptake when it comes to this postulate.
The hard part—and the part that the Lions under Ford ownership haven’t gotten right in 41 years—is the next step.
Martha Ford has taken the keys to her football team away from Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew.
It was overdue, but that was the no-brainer.
Anyone can fire. Pro sports teams fire all the time.
But only those who have grasped the art of hiring are the winners.
Mrs. Ford, Detroit’s football nation turns its lonely eyes to you.