Christmas Comes Early In Detroit

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst ISeptember 25, 2008

There have been many sports related celebrations in the city of Detroit recently.  It sometimes revolved around a Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup title.  Or the Detroit Pistons winning an NBA title, or at least making it to the conference finals.  Even the Detroit Tigers won an American League Championship.  But for the city's football team, that celebration occurred yesterday.  Not for a championship.  Not even for a win.  It was for a long overdue firing of their team President and CEO Matt Millen

In the 1950's the Detroit Lions won three NFL championships.  Of course since there were fewer teams and no Super Bowl, you might not be able to have called them the team of that decade (the Giants, Baltimore Colts, and Bears might have a say in that), but lately it's seemed the team won more championship games in that decade than regular season games in the new millennium.

Through the many coaches, quarterbacks, and bust draft picks, all were directed back to one man for the team's failures...Matt Millen.  Now, the Lions were not necessarily a good team when Millen took over.  They hadn't won a playoff game since 1991, but they at least had appearances, seemingly every other year, in '93-'95, '97, and '99.

Ironically, Millen took over the year after the Lions finished with a 9-7 winning record.  But what would transpire over the next few years wasn't just bad.  It was a catasrophe.  For six straight years the team suffered double digit losing seasons until achieving a whole seven wins last season.

Millen took most of the blame from fans, commentators, and pretty much anyone who was asked what was wrong with this team.  In fact, insulting him was kind of like spitting on something that had already been urinated on.  Yet miraculously, he wasn't fired.  Every year, others were fired BY him, as well as cut or traded.  Somehow, he kept his job.  Which had to beg the question why?  Or more importantly how?  This was a guy with no experience as a team President, no experience as a head coach, or even a hot dog salesman inside the stadium.

The loud calls for his dismissal fell on deaf ears.  After an 0-3 start (again) William Ford Jr. publicly stated if he could fire Millen he would.  So if he couldn't, who did?  The people need to know since they need to know whose name to sing praises to.  The city of Detroit seems to be in a state of joy similar to that of the people of the former Soviet Union, or the citizens of Berlin when the Wall was torn down.

So why was he fired now?  Why during the season?  And furthermore, how did he last THIS long?  Did Millen have incriminating photos or videos of Lions ownership?  Did he promise to use his connections to get them good tickets to other good teams' games?

So what's next for Millen?  Go back to broadcasting?  Become a coach?  It might seem hard to believe that Millen could become a head coach right now because he has no experience.  But then again, he got his position with the Lions with no experience.

In a year where we've all been waiting for the announcement of Lane Kiffin's official firing from Oakland, or Scott Linehan's canning in St. Louis, Millen's is a pleasant surprise.