|Sports Franchise Philosophies: Steelers, Eagles . . . Lions. (Part 3 of 3)
||[Jul. 9th, 2006|02:15 am]
Accountability is ever-present, as well as re-accountability. After the Thanksgiving game, Mr. Millen re-accounted for Mr. Mariucci's account of the state of the Detroit Lions. He replaced Mr. Mariucci as the head coach with one of his subordinates, Mr. Dick Jauron. Mr. Mariucci was unavailable at the time of the announcement because he was preparing his part of being accountable.
So, in this article from ESPN, Mr. Millen gave his account, ever diligent and accountable himself, of Mr. Mariucci's accountability. As follows:
"We started off this season with high expectations," team president Matt Millen said. "We have underachieved as a football team."
Mr. Millen, you must remember, is a professional and one of the greatest masters of being accountable and having accountability.
Fast-backward to the wintery season of 2000-2001.
When Matt Millen stepped into his position under the Fords, he held the majority of the previous players and their coaches accountable for previous mediocre seasons. Matt Millen removed the inherited coach, Gary Moeller, who had been given the role in wake of Bobby Ross, the previous coach, who accounted for himself by resigning during the 2000 NFL season.
On January 24th, 2001, Mr. Millen installed Marty Mornhinweg as the new coach, and in this ESPN article, you can observe that for Mr. Millen and Mr. Mornhinweg, it was a joyous day.
Mr. Millen was very busy during this time in a process of cleaning out many players that he held accountable. As Mr. Millen introduced new players through free agency, trades, and the NFL draft, the Lions, over the next two seasons, played even worse.
Fast-forward to the end of the 2002 season.
This blurb, in this ESPN article on December 31st, 2002, details the status of Mr. Millen and Mr. Mornhinweg:
Matt Millen and Marty Mornhinweg aren't going anywhere, but both hope to change the fortunes of the Detroit Lions.
Detroit Lions chief executive Millen said Tuesday that Mornhinweg, with the blessing of team owner William Clay Ford Sr., would return as coach in 2003.
Millen said Ford told him earlier that his job also was safe.
Detroit has gone 5-27 under Millen and Mornhinweg over the past two seasons, a .156 winning percentage that is the worst for such a span in franchise history. That includes an unprecedented road record of 0-16.
"I know it has looked ugly and I know this is a results-oriented type business," Millen said. "I know we've had five wins in the last two seasons and I understand that completely.
"There are reasons for those things. Some of them are controllable, some of them are not controllable. But I think we fight it, move forward and fight with conviction. And, of course, we need to get some players and make some corrections. Part of it is that we need to play better ... part of it is, we need to coach better and be coached better."
As you can see, however, in this ESPN article, on January 27th, 2003, Mr. Millen re-accounted for Marty Mornhinweg. Mr. Millen also learned that he had to re-account for himself:
On Monday, Millen said Mornhinweg was fired as part of the process of moving forward.
"We have to continue to make the best decision to get this franchise going in the right direction,'' Millen said.
"I want to win, and I want to win now," he said.
As you can see, William Clay Ford Sr. and Jr., well, they are at the top of the organization. Matt Millen, of course, has accountability to the Fords. And the Fords, well, they make everyone in the Detroit Lions organization accountable.
You can see that many people will be accountable in key moments, such as the firing of a coach.
Not long after Mr. Mariucci was fired by Mr. Millen, more accounts appeared, including ones from Dre Bly and Jeff Garcia. As follows:
"If we'd had production on offense, in particular the quarterback position, Mooch [Steve Mariucci] wouldn't have been fired," Bly told the Detroit Free Press. "If Jeff Garcia hadn't gotten hurt, we wouldn't be in this position today. Mooch wouldn't have gotten fired."
"We're all at fault, but I just feel like Joey [Harrington]'s been here four years, and being the No. 3 pick in the draft, he hasn't given us anything," Bly told the paper. "He hasn't given us what the third pick in the draft should give us."
"You start to question whether the organization has the people in place who can go about making the proper selections," Garcia told WXYT-AM, according to the paper. "You really have to question that."
Through his sacrifice . . .
all quarterbacks can be redeemed.
In the off-season, Matt Millen agreed with Dre Bly and Jeff Garcia's accountable accounts, in particular, on the diagnosis of the offense and the quarterback position having the most accountability for the 2005 season. Matt Millen jettisoned Joey Harrington through a trade to the Miami Dolphins. Jeff Garcia had been under contract for just that one season. His contract was not renewed.
You can bet that Dre Bly understands his accountability for the Lions defense in 2006.
Dre Bly: The Little Midget That Could.
As for Bly, he was brought into the organization through free agency, which is another important part of the philosophy of the Detroit Lions.
Free agency is essential to the Lions front office when they need to fill a void.
When recognized, Matt Millen will ask his fellow executives, his coach, his players, and his family for advice on which available players can best fill the need. Sometimes, he'll ask them just what that need is, in cases where he's really unsure. When he knows the need, and he knows which player can best fill that need, he offers them a contract to play for the Lions. Often, the contract is quite favorable. For instance, Marty Mornhinweg coached for two seasons. He was paid for five.
In Bly's case, the Lions, at the time, were getting beat deep on multiple passes for multiple touchdowns. Mr. Millen believed that the Lions secondary needed an addition. The Lions, he believed, needed a speedy cornerback to fill that void. Bly was a free agent at this time, and Mr. Millen offered him a contract. Bly agreed to play for the Lions. It's really that simple.
On the day that Bly's signing was announced, Matt Millen was overheard saying this to one of his fellow executives:
"Man, that Bly. He can fly! Hey, that rhymes! Listen, he's fast, and that's what we need. Yeah, Bly's a little short, but hey, if the fastest free agent had been a one-armed midget with a 4.3 40-yard dash, I'd have signed him. We have a need for speed! Hey, that rhymes!"
The Lions pay special focus to the annual NFL Draft with a sophisticated and scientific approach.
The Detroit Lions draft philosophy involves Mr. Matt Millen and his daughter, Marianne.
Preparation for the NFL Draft is a difficult operation.
On the first day of availability, Mr. Millen purchases a copy of The Sporting News Pro Football Draft Guide from a local drugstore. This will be the cornerstone of Mr. Millen's draft plans. Why spend on scouts and/or multiple data reports when The Sporting News sells all the draft information for cheap? The 2006 copy cost $7.99, US. That's a bargain!
Mr. Millen reads his copy for about one week. Then, he begins to thumb through the guide, highlighting the names of players that interest him. Interest sparks from a number of inspirations. Of course, he has favorites for last names. Matt Millen was overheard saying this while thumbing through The Sporting News, at the office, in early 2005:
"Oooh . . . Williams. Mike Williams. Yes, I like Williamses."
"Hey! Chad Johnson! I remember you!
We were gonna draft you in 2001, but Cinci beat us to it!
Man, that's a shame, I mean I really like Johnsons.
Aaaaaah! There's that smile!
Love that smile! You . . . aah, you . . . whataguy!"
Once he's finished the highlights, then he writes down the names on a clean sheet of paper. He organizes the names on the paper by round. He organizes the names based off the rounds that the Sporting News projects the players to be selected. Sometimes, if he has a favorite, he might bump a name up some rounds. Of course, by the time he's been halfway through the names, the sheet is soiled by spilled coffee. He starts over with a fresh sheet. Mr. Millen starts over on average of three times before he swears off coffee for a couple days in order to produce a final clean sheet. The start-overs allow for revision, and higher list quality is produced.
Then, he asks his daughter, Marianne, to free up some time to spend with him and her friends. Marianne coordinates, and his wife, Patricia, books several flight tickets to Detroit for the very next weekend.
Deep in a secret bunker deep within Allen Park, Matt sets up a separate room for each of Marianne's friends. Each room has an adjacent full bath. Each room has a desk with a comfy workstation chair. Each desk has a telephone, an open notebook, and a ball-point pen on it. There's a button on the nearby wall to press for room service. There's a cot over on one end of the room. On the desk, he leaves a post-it note near the phone with a number for a cell phone.
In the main room, Matt sets up Marianne with similar furnishings, only on Marianne's desk, instead of a telephone, there are several cell phones. Each cell phone is unique. Mr. Millen tells Marianne that her friends are about to start calling her. She is to pick one of the cell phones, answer it, and write down the name.
Mr. Millen then steps into a free room adjacent to Marianne's room. He calls each of Marianne's friends, one by one, and he tells each of them a different name on the list, and he asks that they write it down on their notebook. Mr. Millen then places a conference call to all of Marianne's friends, and he instructs them to call the cell number on their desk and tell Marianne the name that they wrote in their notebook.
Marianne receives the calls on the cells in front of her. All the cells have blocked number identification. She picks one of the cells. One of her friends greets her, and she hears the name. Marianne writes down that name on her notebook. Mr. Millen, standing over her, notices the name of the player, and that will be the player that the Detroit Lions will have as the highest priority for the upcoming draft.
Mr. Millen then collects all the cells, and he replaces them with several new and unique cells. He enters the rooms of the girls, and he provides each of them with a new cell number on another post-it note.
The process repeats until every player's name off Mr. Millen's original sheet has been crossed off the list.
Mr. Millen claims he was inspired by watching one of those pet food commercials where they put food from different brands in bowls, and they let the pet decide which one to eat.
This is a process that takes some time, and it spans over several weekends.
At the end of that first night, when all the girls are tired, they lie down in their cots and rest. Sometimes, during one of the calls to Marianne, the girls begin to gossip. Mr. Millen does not begrudge them their youth. Sometimes Mr. Millen will go in the other room and three-way the conversation, joining in on the chatty fun. Why not live a little while one works? They even take several breaks a day for the bathroom and food from room service.
Mr. Millen claims this is the best way to spend quality time with Marianne and be close to her and her friends.
So, now you know the operation philosophy and some of the procedures of the Detroit Lions organization. It seems to be working well for Matt Millen, who is the president and CEO of the franchise. On August 3rd, 2005, Mr. William Clay Ford, Sr. announced that Mr. Millen received a five year contract extension. In 2005, the Detroit Lions finished with five wins. During Mr. Millen's tenure, the Detroit Lions have won 21 games. If that was over two seasons, Mr. Millen claims that the Lions would have went undefeated and had wins to spare for the next year.
Mr. Millen's contract will run through the 2010 season.
As for Mr. Ford's accountability, that is to the fans of the Detroit Lions.
She learns from the pros at an early age.
I was once a fan, but I had to account for myself this year. I wanted to move on to have more time for drinking, eating ice cream, and writing articles like this.
With the information that I learned from the Detroit Lions, I feel invincible. I probably could go on to be a fine captain of industry, someone amazing, like Kenneth Lay.
Special thanks to a Lions Insider for the overheard conversations and other details of the franchise philosophy.
This concludes part 3 of 3.
To hop back to part 1, go here.
To jog back to part 2, go here.