Saturday, November 07, 2015

Will Detroit Lions Fans Fire the Owner?

In a National Football League season that began with optimism, loyal Detroit Lions fans once again have descended deeply into doom and gloom.

Avid team backers have a standard answer when questioned about their favorites: "Same old Lions." The "same old" Lions franchise goes way back. Its last NFL title was won in 1957. Since then, the team has won only a single playoff game. Fans have been treated to just one winning season in the past 14 years.

Halfway through the current campaign, the Lions have lost seven games and won one. In effect, their season is over. Only a highly unlikely miracle would get them into the playoffs.

Ford family members (yes, the auto guys) have owned the club since 1963. They have long been accused of having too much patience with inept team management. Response to the current losing season, however, has been anything but patient. Family actions are bordering on firing everybody. And a Lions fan, probably with tongue in cheek, has launched a movement to fire the Fords.

When the Lions record hit 1-6, Head Coach Jim Caldwell fired three top assistants. After a disastrous seventh loss in the league's annual game staged in London, England, Martha Firestone Ford fired the team president and the general manager. Caldwell has been spared, perhaps because he is a new guy in the organization or because there aren't many folks left to fill in as head coach should he be sacked.

Fan Jeff Tarnowski last month announced it was time to can the Fords. He started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise $1.4 billion to buy the Lions. CBS Sports reported initial enthusiasm was high, but initial contributions didn't measure up. Early donations totaled $930. Tarnowski says he will give the money to charity if a purchase fails to materialize.

Tarnowski has a way to go. Michigan's population is about 9 million. One amateur accountant calculated it would take a donation of $150 for every man, woman, and child in the state to raise enough cash to make a serious offer for the Lions.

Would the Ford family accept a serious offer? Not a chance. Martha Firestone (yes, the tire guys) Ford is 90 years old, but she is said to be very energetic and dedicated to changing the Lions losing ways. Forbes magazine says she is worth  $1.38 billion, so a shortage of personal cash is not a problem. Mrs. Ford's four children are vice chairmen of the team, and one is being groomed to assume the owner role.

William Clay Ford bought the Lions for $4.5 million 52 years ago. The club may have lost games, but it undoubtedly made big money over the years. The team has produced a tidy return on Mr. Ford's investment. Win or lose, Lions ownership will continue to be a family affair. The team will be playing at Ford Field for a long time to come.


Kay said...

I'm not a sports fan so I never know what's going on, but sports is very popular in Hawaii. After being away from Hawaii for about 5 weeks the first thing our friends who picked us up from the airport said was, "OK, here's the most important thing that happened while you were away. They fired Norm Chow." Chow is the football coach for the University of Hawaii. The team has been losing for several years so I guess it was inevitable. We had just returned from seeing the Cubs go down in flames again so were used to the feeling.

It's nice to be home again but I've brought home a cold with me so I'm stuck in bed. I know the weather must be turning even colder for you. However, the colors were magnificent, weren't they?

PiedType said...

Sports teams -- a hobby of the very wealthy, something interesting to have in one's portfolio. And fans are never happy. Here in Denver the Broncos were 6-0 (now 7-0 I think) and yet all they talked about was dumping Peyton Manning. Go figure. As you might have guessed, I'm not much of a sports fan anymore. My mood no longer depends on whether the Oklahoma Sooners win or lose, and is only slightly dependent on my son's reactions to his favorite teams' fates (Seattle Seahawks and Arsenal FC in London).

Anonymous said...

Wow, so sports is like politics after all. I was always suspicious, paricularly when you see so many former athletes going into politics (think Jack Kemp).

Dick Klade said...

Kay--My recollection is that Norm Chow was considered an outstanding coach just a few years ago. I don't like the "fire the coach" mentality every time a program goes into decline. Sometimes it is for reasons that have little to do with the head coach.

Pied--Peyton Manning is one of the all-time great quarterbacks, and he showed it when the Broncos humiliated my Packers last week. Some folks are much too quick to jump to conclusions in sports (and elsewhere).

Dianne--Oh yes, sports (especially pro sports) can be very political. Big money and big politics seem to go together everywhere.

Tom Sightings said...

I admit I'm a fair weather football fan . . . so I am getting interested in the Jets this year!

Dick Klade said...

The Jets are on the rise, Tom. It's been a while.

NCmountainwoman said...

Well, those loser Lions managed to beat the Packers yesterday. And at Lambeau yet. I had to change from my lucky Packer shirt to keep its winning record intact. Oh, what a sad game. And that quick burst of energy near the end simply made it worse.

Dick Klade said...

I left my Packers shirt in the closet hoping to change our luck. Sure didn't work. Looks like we may be heading for the Stupor Bowl instead of the other one. Those Lions fans here in Michigan will show me no mercy.