Five Thoughts on Detroit Lions Firing GM and President
By Jeff Risdon
Rejoice in Lewand’s departure
Last week I wrote about Mayhew needing to go. He’s a good man who had a solid plan that just didn’t work out. That is unfortunate, but that is also the cold reality of working in professional sports. The best-laid plans often go to waste, as Mayhew’s certainly did.
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
On the other hand, Mrs. Ford cutting Lewand loose is worthy of celebration. In my mind, he was the principal impediment to success. His primary job was negotiating contracts and managing the salary cap. He failed miserably at both. While Mayhew publicly took the bullet for Ndamukong Suh’s departure, Lewand was just as culpable by delaying talks with the agent and never grasping the sense of urgency or the reality that Suh would in fact leave.
It was Lewand who bid against himself in rewarding Calvin Johnson with a contract extension that hangs over the franchise like a giant buzzard. Were others prepared to rush in with fat paychecks if Calvin approached the open market? Absolutely. But Lewand failed to grasp the cap ramifications of paying a wide receiver some 20 percent of the salary cap.
When paired with the known costs of Stafford and Suh on their initial, lucrative rookie deals, going way above market value to keep Calvin completely handcuffed the franchise from making more moves to improve. He’s also very much in companion with Jim Caldwell on trying to purge the roster of players of questionable character, which sounds noble but is pragmatically a poor course.
To be fair to him, Lewand was the primary figure in engineering Ford Field and bringing the team into the modern era in terms of operations and media. On that front, he was a success.
Lewand was not popular with agents, who found him unctuous and overestimating his own power and importance. My personal dealings with him, while limited, very much reflect this opinion as well. He is a man who will look you in the eye, lie to your face and then immediately gloat about doing so behind your back. That’s my experience and I won’t deny that it drips with personal bias, but I know I’m not alone in holding Tom Lewand in very high contempt.
Next: A lost season