Detroit Lions: Is it more about the players or the uniform?

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Owner, Martha Ford
(Photo by Diane Weiss/Getty Images) /

Think Ford first?

Many fans chalk up the Lions inability to build a winner to the stewardship of the Ford family. An accusation that is hard to argue considering the results since William Clay Ford parlayed his minority share of the Lions which he purchased in 1961 into total control and ownership of the team in 1963 when he bought out the remaining 144 shares.

Suddenly the Lions had become the Pinto before the invention of that travesty of a Ford vehicle actually occurred. Quite frankly decades after the Pinto was thankfully laid to rest, the Lions are still Pinto’s.

Year in and year out this franchise has been unable to come up with the winning formula. For many years they operated without a general manager as William Clay Ford himself basically assumed the position with hand-picked front office staff to give him advice.

Much like all the head coaches that failed in Detroit, this hierarchy of running the team couldn’t get the job done. Yet it was no better when Mr. Ford actually decided to follow the NFL blueprint and have a general manager.

Things never did improve. As a matter of fact, the combination of current general manager Bob Quinn and former head coach Jim Caldwell probably represents the peak regime for this franchise since Mr. Ford became involved with the Lions in 1961.

Two years together and one playoff appearance which ended in a lopsided 26-6 loss to Seattle, leading to the tailspin of the last two seasons after Bob Quinn dismissed Jim Caldwell in favor of his old Patriots buddy Matt Patricia.

Ownership plays a heavy role in any team’s success or failure. They hire the decision-makers who either build contenders or pretenders. Every facet of the game goes back to ownership. Yet just because someone owns an NFL team it doesn’t make them an expert.

This is why they hire football people to run their team. But if they don’t hire the right person, then disaster follows. If they decide to hire a former NFL player who happened to become a broadcaster following his playing career, then it better be John Lynch, not Matt Millen.