Regret can be a heavy burden to carry, especially when the weight on your back is due to your incompetence.
That’s what the Ford family in Detroit has to be feeling right now, as the Lions will enter next season on their third head coach (Darrell Bevell served as interim for five games) in four seasons. But, it didn’t have to be this way. The Lions could have kept Jim Caldwell, but their racism and issues with having the only Black coach in franchise history continue to lead their team is why they have been stuck with mediocre — at best — white coaches ruining their team.
Former Lions owner Martha Ford — a woman that once tried to bribe players from kneeling in 2017 — and former general manager Bob Quinn fired Caldwell on New Year’s Day in 2018 because his 9-7 record that season wasn’t “good enough.” Even though Caldwell’s 56.3 percent winning percentage in his four-year tenure had exceeded that of any Lions coach in the last 60 years, and his teams had accounted for two of the Lions three playoff appearances since 2000, the white brass in Detroit didn’t feel like the Black coach was doing enough.
“At the end of the day, it’s wanting to take this team to the next level,” said Quinn on why he fired Caldwell. “To me, that’s winning championships, that’s winning playoff games and that’s winning the Super Bowl.”
Ford and Quinn chose former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, a white man. Patricia and Quinn were fired in November, as Patricia’s had a 13-29-1 record since 2018, while the Lions were 31-43-1 during Quinn’s tenure. Caldwell’s record with the Lions was 36-30. But instead of telling you how much better the Lions had it with Caldwell, I’ll let one of his former players do it for me.
With six of the seven head coaching vacancies having already been filled, all eyes are on the Houston Texans to see if they will be the ones to finally hire an African-American coach, as there are only two in a league that’s over 70 percent Black. Of course, the Lions had an opportunity to hire any one of the talented and overly-qualified Black candidates but chose to hire Dan Campbell, a man that was on the roster when the team went 0-16.
Here’s what I do know, is that this team is going to take on the identity of this city. And this city’s been down and it found a way to get up. It’s found a way to overcome adversity. So this team’s going to be built on, we’re going to kick you in the teeth, all right, and when you punch us back, we’re going to smile at you and when you knock us down, we’re going to get up, and on the way up, we’re going to bite a knee cap off. And we’re going to stand up and then it’s going to take two more shots to knock us down. And on the way up, we’re going to take your other knee cap. And we’re going to get up and then it’s going to take three shots to get us down. And when we do, we’re going to (get up and) take another hunk out of you. Before long, we’re going to be the last one standing. That’s going to be the mentality.
No wonder this franchise has never been to a Super Bowl.
And to make things even worse, on Saturday, it was reported that Matt Stafford is done in Detroit, as the Lions will field trade offers for their franchise quarterback. Between Stafford, Barry Sanders, and Calvin Johnson, the Lions’ three best players have all voluntarily walked away.
When the Lions take the field next season they will be a team without a franchise quarterback, will only have eight wins in the prior two years, and a new head coach that wants to “bite kneecaps.”
Jim Caldwell is laughing his ass off.
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