March 20, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz answers questions from reporters during the annual NFL meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
In honor of April Fools day, let’s take a closer look at one of the NFL’s only franchises that still hasn’t made a Super Bowl appearance. In a league that is geared toward making everything equal among its teams, winning only one play-off game in over fifty years takes some serious blundering. This is a look back at some of the classic moments of this franchise’s biggest blunders.
Before I reminisce about the Detroit Lions colorful past, I want to make clear that even though this team is coming off a terribly disappointing season last year, I still believe a nucleus is in place to deliver the woeful Lions to the Super Bowl someday soon. The funny stories of the Lions missteps of the past, like Marty Mornhinweg taking the wind and not the ball in that classic overtime moment, are still talked about today.
It’s been the hiring of certain people by Mr. Ford that has brought this once-proud franchise to be better remembered for being the only team in NFL history to go a complete season without winning a single game in 2008. It started in the 70s when the best head coach the Lions ever had, Joe Schmidt, couldn’t take it anymore and just quit. The Lions floundered along until they hired Monte Clark. Clark brought the toughness back to the Lions and got them a missed field goal away from that elusive first playoff victory in 1983. Things weren’t progressing fast enough for Mr. Ford, so he fired Clark after the 1984 season.
The Lions didn’t have to look far for their next head coach, they just drove up to Lansing and hired the woefully under-prepared Darryl Rogers from Michigan State. Lomas Brown remembers Rogers for being more interested in how many pigeons were on the Silverdome roof than he was in practice. Rogers is best remembered for the classic quote- “What’s a guy have to do to get fired around here?”
The Lions turned to Wayne Fontes after that, and were an inconsistent team that did produce the only playoff win in 1991. Fontes had the good fortune to draft Barry Sanders, and rode his coattails to keep his job. Fontes should have been fired a few years before he was, but he always sweet talked Mr. Ford out of it. The inevitable finally happened, and Mr. Ford ended up with an even worse coach in Bobby Ross. Ross was so bad that Barry Sanders retired rather than play his style of football.
In 2001, The Lions decided to enter the next century, making a bold move and hiring broadcaster Matt Millen to run their football team. It was a move that had as much success as the Titanic had on it’s maiden voyage. After awhile, it was obvious to every one but Mr. Ford, that Millen was in over his head. The only thing that was worse than hiring Millen was giving him another contract. Millen was finally fired during the infamous 0-16 season.
The hirings by Mr. Ford have been consistently poor over his tenure as owner of the Detroit Lions. That’s why this off-season is extremely important to us fans. If Mayhew and Schwartz can turn this around and get their Mojo back, then maybe Mr. Ford finally got it right.