Once Again the Lions Hire a Good Man, and Once Again He Won’t Fix the Lions!

Hondo S. Carpenter

Once Again the Lions Hire a Good Man, and Once Again He Won’t Fix the Lions!


The Lions once again hired a good man to be the head coach. By all accounts, he is an honorable man and a good football coach. Jim Schwartz is loyal, he has had a distinguished career, and he certainly understands the game of football.


Does it sound familiar? Doesn’t it just vaguely give you a sense of deja vu? Doesn’t it bring back some repressed memories that you wanted to forget?


Sure it does. The Lions have a litany of good people littered in their past that once led the Lions. They came with high hopes. They came with distinguished careers and wanted desperately to fulfill a dream of being an NFL head coach. They foolishly bought into an organization that favors lip service over winning.


Watching the press conference I felt bad for Schwartz. He believes them. He has taken a big gulp of the kool-aid and is convinced that he has an owner committed to winning and bosses above him that can take him there.


It was sad. I root for good people. I root for people that work hard and dare to dream big. You look at his pedigree and talk to people who know him and the best emotion that you can summon is pity. We will be back here in a short time with a new coach and the Lions’ fans desperately trying to discuss why this guy is the one.


Does anyone actually connect the dots that the Ford family is the problem? Does anyone ascertain that they are the incompetent one, that as long as they are connected to the franchise it will fail?


“I’m willing to stake my reputation on Matt’s (Millen) success,” was the exact words of Bill Ford Jr. on January 9, 2001. Does anyone think we have heard the rhetoric before? Jr. staked his reputation, so now we know how to judge him. The Ford family’s legacy in football and leading a franchise is beyond dismal. Even worse than what they have done with their car company.


Marinelli was a good man. I have written extensively about the Lions’ business practices so I won’t repeat any of them here, but here is one I haven’t discussed. It is the same culture that Schwartz will have to coach in.


Last season Rod Marinelli was very aware that he needed horses. He and Matt Millen spent time with and knew that they wanted to add Takeo Spikes to the Lions. Spikes himself liked the prospect of playing for Marinelli and wanted to be a Lion. Spikes made it clear to Marinelli and Millen that he wasn’t going to get into a bidding war. He wanted an offer from the Lions. One offer, and if it was acceptable he would join them. Millen told Spikes at the time, “Our best offer is $1.5 million.” Spike accepted the offer and when he was given the contract from the Lions, it didn’t match the figures that he had agreed with Millen on. Unfortunately this is not the first player this had happened to, but once again the Lions lost. (Read my article on the Lions business practices from the archives for other examples)


 He (Spikes) was disgusted and ruled the Lions out immediately. That is why you heard so much comment about how angry Marinelli acted when Spikes was no longer on the table. It wasn’t Marinelli or Millen’s fault that a player that this team desperately needed was playing in San Francisco.


Millen had tried to deal with the issues with the business practices by firing people more than once in the past and Ford Sr. overruled him. Good men in the past have paid a price for a dysfunctional organization led by a family that has no clue on how to run a pro football franchise and another good one will also.


Where is Pioli? Where are the sweeping changes that start at the top? One thing has been consistent since the Ford family took over: Losing and incompetence from the very top. Remember that with Ford’s long history of success (can you sense my sarcasm) that he told one reporter that he didn’t think one person could fix it.Â


Schwartz is a good man. Schwartz has earned the right to be a head coach in this league. Like many before him he will get that chance with the Lions. Like all before him he will fail; a victim of the organization that has no clue on how to run an NFL football team. A victim that will walk away with millions of dollars, but the fan base will still be wondering, “When is it our turn.”


Here is a memo Lions fans: The Fords don’t care. They have proven it. You will run like cattle to the slaughter come fall and buy your tickets. You will wear your Lions clothes and have a false hope that will only too soon be shattered. Marching in front of a camera and saying you care means nothing. What do their actions prove? They don’t care.


So, welcome to Detroit Coach Schwartz. You are a good man. You are a good coach. The Fords have made you their latest sacrificial lamb. You will be paid millions to fail; a golden parachute of sorts. Like every other previous head coach (non-interim) that the Lions have had you will not ever be a head coach in this league again. That is sad because you have proven that you don’t do this job for the money. You love it. Your friends from all over the league will call and consul you. They will try to make you feel better when it starts to unravel. You deserve better.


A prominent Lions player told me previous to the 2008 season (and I know he said it to at least one other member of the media that covers the Lions) this shocking statement, “When I came here I couldn’t understand how the fans and the media were so down on this team and organization. After the 2007 season I get it. They are doomed. Write or say all you want because it is all true, every bit of it. This organization is cursed.”


That is a good man who said that, Coach Schwartz. He is one of your players. You have some good guys on this team and many people in the organization that are fine folks. Detroit would be a great city to have an NFL team. If we ever get one, maybe you can come back and coach it after the Lions fire you.


I have only one piece of advice for you: RENT and keep your resume handy. The only hope for this franchise is the Ford family selling. As long as Ford Motor Company shells millions into the NFL coffers the league won’t pressure them like they should to fix it so you will be gone and another hired to replace you.


You are a good man. You are a good coach. You will leave a good man. You will leave a good coach, with a losing record and millions of dollars to soothe the pain. Sadly, like the other good men before you, the millions won’t make you feel better. That is why you’re a good man and coach. Sorry you have to work for the Fords, in fact, we’re sorry that we have to root for a team they own.






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