December 29, 2008

The Detroit Lions fired coach Rod Marinelli on Monday, a day after the team became the first in NFL history to finish with an 0-16 record.

The Lions issued a news release announcing the firing, with team owner William Clay Ford promoting Tom Lewand to team president and Martin Mayhew to general manager.

The team planned to open their locker room to the media Monday morning. Marinelli was to be available for comment at a news conference.

The Lions completed their winless season with a loss to Green Bay on Sunday, pushing aside Tampa Bay's 1976 season of 0-14 as the league's worst.

Ford also did not retain defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who is Marinelli's son-in-law, assistant offensive line coach Mike Barry, his son-in-law's dad, and secondary coach Jimmy Lake.

Defensive line coach Joe Cullen's contract was not renewed and offensive coordinator Jim Colletto was demoted to offensive line coach.

Marinelli won only one of his last 24 games and was 10-38 in three years after former team president Matt Millen gave the former Buccaneers assistant his first head coaching job.

Millen was fired as team president three months ago, but the players he left behind coupled with the former Tampa Bay players Marinelli wanted created the perfect storm for a historic season of futility.

Marinelli was the third coach Millen hired -- following Steve Mariucci and Marty Mornhinweg -- in what has been the NFL's worst eight-season stretch since World War II.

Fans and reporters cut Marinelli some slack during in his first year, when he went 3-13, because of the Millen-created mess he inherited. Hopes rose when Detroit was 6-2 midway through last year but were quickly dashed when the team finished 7-9.

The Lions fired offensive coordinator Mike Martz after the 2007 season but retained Marinelli's son-in-law to lead the defense.

That led to more scrutiny and exchange with a columnist that made Marinelli a martyr of sorts.

Detroit News columnist Rob Parker asked Marinelli if he wished his daughter married a better defensive coordinator after a 42-7 loss to New Orleans.

Marinelli didn't answer the question during his news conference, but lashed out the next day with anger he hid after his string of losses.

"Anytime you attack my daughter, I've got a problem with that," Marinelli bristled.

The Vietnam veteran said he would never quit, saying he was insulted when a reporter asked about the option.

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