The Detroit Lions did some house cleaning Thursday, firing team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew after a 1-7 start to the season.
“Yeah, big time,” 105.1 Detroit Sports Talk host Matt Dery said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “This has been an organization that has always rewarded loyalty. When you’re talking about moving out a team president in Tom Lewand, who’s almost like a second son to the Ford family – to see him lose his job was a huge surprise. I think everybody had called for Martin Mayhew to be gone after a 1-7 start and really draft pick after draft pick that hasn’t worked out. The team has been a punchline all year, but to see both Martin and Tom gone like this in one fell swoop, it did surprise a lot of people here.”
The Lions made the playoffs last year. It was just their second postseason appearance since 1999.
Is this a new day in Lions Land?
“It has to be,” Dery said. “In this league especially, it’s not that hard to win anymore. There’s so much parity. There’s so many teams that if they’re down one minute, they’re up the next. With the Lions, it’s always the opposite. It’s one good season after four bad ones or something, and then last year was the one with the 11 wins.”
Now it’s back to 1-7.
“It signifies a change has to come,” Dery said. “But with Mrs. Ford running the team after her husband passed away, nobody knew if Martha Ford would do anything that her husband wouldn’t do, and that is throw a firing line out there – and she decided to do it today. I think a lot of fans are excited about that, but again, very cautious about what will be next.”
We’ve seen a lot of urgency in recent years from Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, 86, to win a World Series. Will we see that same urgency from 90-year-old Martha Ford?
Maybe, maybe not.
“When she read her statement, I think there were a lot of people disappointed that she didn’t take questions, nor did she show any kind of personality,” Dery said. “Sometimes it would be nice to hear from the leadership at the very top of the Lions, look in the camera, look at the people in the room and pound their fist against the table and say, ‘This is not right, not acceptable, and this is embarrassing.’ And instead it was sort of a canned, read statement.”
Either way, Dery felt this was a step in the right direction. Just last week, Mayhew said in London that the Lions, then 1-6, would be buyers at the trade deadline, not sellers.
It was stunning.
“Why not say, ‘Hey, I messed up this year, we’re going to come back next year better, and I’m going to look to sell and improve this team so this year can be something we put in the rearview mirror,’” Dery wondered. “And he didn’t do that. So Lions fans are still skeptical. They’re excited that change is coming, but they’re still skeptical that nobody at the very top has at least admitted it’s been a total bleep-show – not just this year, but in recent past years.”