I’m been a diehard going way back. So many torturous seasons; GMs - Russ “Short arms deep pockets” Thomas, Chuck “Short arms deep pockets 2” Smith, The Millen Years, so many bad coaches; Daryl “What does it take to get fired around here?” Rodgers, Bobby “I don’t coach this” Ross, Marty “Biker Badass” Mornhigweg, Mr. 0-16 Marinelli, and the cherry on top Patricia. It’s a road map of pain for every Lion fan,
So every minute of this season, every news article I can read or video breakdown of the Lions during November and December run has been our joy! Did Keegen-Michael Key & Peyton solve the problem with the exorcism of the Lions Curse? Did fate finally bring us Dan Campbell to break the curse? I don’t know, I just know that my ultimate fandom rests with his team and I cant remember being this happy since Barry evaded tacklers in the 90’s.
I’m just so damn happy now.
Who is to thank the most?
A) Dan Campbell
B) Brad Holmes
C) Shelia Ford-Hamp
D) The Rams
E) Texas A&M University
Sheila deserves a ton of credit. It was a huge risk to pair together a GM and HC who didn’t know each other and have them share responsibility for the team equally. She also deserves credit for taking a shot on Campbell when he was a totally different type of dude than most other HC candidates - a much safer play would have been to hire someone with an excellent reputation as a OC or DC.
The Ford family (headed by Martha) had earlier turned to the league for help. They had tremendous respect and appreciation for both Mayhew and Lewand, but the failures of that regime really forced them to do something, especially after having come so close and then for everything to just collapse as it did personnel-wise with Suh, Ebron, Fairley and others. By the “league”, I mean first the Richardson and Mara families who advised them to move on from Mayhew and to hit up the league for the next search (keeping in mind that there was NOBODY in the team’s front office capable of it). Their league-assisted search turned up Quinn, who they ceded 100% complete football control to.
After that also turned into failure, and with Richardson’s failures and the Mara family’s failures with the Giants, not to mention the league’s and Accorsi failures with other teams, they were exhausted (visibly when Sheila announced Quinn had been let go) and had to look within for help. Wood was a few years older in his position and knew not to cede that much control to a new hire. He also had Spielman to consult with and concluded they had clear enough definition of what they were looking for that they could set out and find it.
It’s said that when someone builds a dream house, it’s not really the house they dreamed of, rather it’s the house that doesn’t have any of the things they hate about the house they’re currently in. This collaborative approach to building a front office comes from leadership that has established a stated vision that parties from different backgrounds can grasp and work toward, i.e. Disner, Holmes and Campbell having no prior history. This is in stark contrast to the concentrated power and “vision” of Bob Quinn.
I know a few guys like to rail against Wood here, but defining goals and roles and empowering others to reach them doesn’t just happen by accident. Building a “collaborative” framework is often just lip service. What makes it happen here is, I believe, is a certain amount of humility, trust and servitude from the leadership in Allen Park.
Their search led them to Holmes and Campbell, with Campbell being a legitimate and deserving candidate for Coach Of The Year. You never get to them without having endured the failures of the previous 12 years.
Amazing @LineBusy Loved the little trip down memory lane. A lot of rough years. A lot of pain. I do think Rod Wood (who is admittedly not a football guy), is someone who has had the humility to stick to what he is good at. You don’t end up managing the family fortune of the Ford/Firestone empire unless you’re truly gifted. So he was likely pretty instrumental in bringing Spielman in, who I think is really the guy who propelled this on its arc. If you’ve ever listened to the podcast with Spielman where he talks about serving from the shadows, staying humble and investing in the entire organization (concessions employees at Ford Field, ticket department, PR, marketing, food service, et al.), it’s tremendously inspiring. A true servant and leader with a ton of strength and character. Dan is a man’s man. A leader of men. No BS. He brings it everyday. You can tell how much guys believe in him and want to run through a brick wall for him. He has been the tone setter. He is honest and straightforward and the culture has changed. Big time. I never thought it would. Then Brad Holmes. He’s done his job remarkably well. In 2 years he has completely turned over the roster and unearthed gems through the draft. His Stafford trade brought not only a haul of picks but also a talented young former #1 overall pick in Jared Goff. Goff has stood tall in the face of extreme professional and personal crisis the past two years. His career looked to be spiraling out of control when dumped by Sean McVay. Instead he’s persevered and is putting up top 5-7 numbers right now while still early in a total tear down and rebuild. Pretty impressive. Sheila seems like she’s invested too. Literally. She’s writing the checks. The future looks very bright indeed. Our primary jeopardy amidst all the sunshine is losing our young offensive savant Ben Johnson. I love his offense and all the misdirection, window dressing, and creativity. He’s playing chess most of the time it seems. Lastly, the coaches are developing their draft picks as well as veterans. Goff has improved, JWill, Hutch is developing very nicely, James Houston…are you kidding me?! Kerby, Okudah, Jerry Jacobs, Brockstar Wright, Rodrigo, Sewell, ARSB, Buggs. Great coaches develop great players. We are finally beginning to see some of what we’ve alway watched in Dallas, GB, New England, SF, KC for years and years- draft talent, develop talent, get talent to work as a team on the playing field.
Damn funny…I literally used this phrase last night around 9:00 pm and just now, at 4:00 am, reading your post. I’ve only heard this saying maybe three times in my life. My wife’s family is from Scotland and they are notoriously cheap people.
Don’t forget ‘cocaine Wayne’. The winningest Lions coach of all time. He’s also the coach that lost the most games in Detroit. 66-67, I believe.
I remember all those years. Those coaching failures are only outdone by the parade of ‘The next Great Quarterbacks’ to come to Detroit.
Great posts above, well said. I’ll just say that being in uncharted territory on the positive end of the spectrum (playing meaningful December games, holding a top 5 pick, plus another 1st and two 2nd’s) has me pretty hopeful for the coming years.
Remember that we were Lions fans before it was cool!
So true, the number of guys who want to rail Wood here.
The fact that you can justifiably build a Fountain of Wayne for being the sole winner of a singular playoff game over the course of over 60 years is the epitome of ineptitude. (For some of you, I just got a song stuck in your head…purely intentional, I assure you)
I asked awhile back how I could get my boys
into our Fandom. This winning streak has done that.