Thursday, September 25, 2008

Millen-nium's End

Well, thank God that's finally over. At last, there's a chance of two decent games on Thanksgiving, something that wasn't going to happen as long as Millen was in charge of the Lions, not unless the NFL let them schedule one of the directional Michigan schools out of the MAC.

The fan response has been unanimous: thank God. Millen was awful at his job and possessed uncanny staying power, the sort of bulletproof combination that one usually only sees in self-hating English professors with tenure and television shows starring Brad Garrett.

Among the chattering classes, the reaction is mixed. Why now? It means giving up on the season. Surely there's time to turn it around, particularly since the GM's work for the year is already mostly done? What effect could canning Millen now have that would make it worth it to give up on the entire year?

The answer, I think, is attention. As long as Millen was GM, he was the story on the Lions, and it was a bad one. The Ford family, sensibly, decided that it was past time to stop devaluing their investment by guaranteeing it another year's worth of bad pub and humiliation, and instead decided to give it another, positive talking point that the pundits and announcers could latch onto during any and all future shellackings. That's worth something - at the box office, in the seats, and in the perception of the fan base.

It's not like keeping Millen around for the rest of the season would have done much good, that's true. And it's not like there was that much more harm he could do, either. In fact, all of his damage was already done, making removing him pretty much a strict salary consideration. The product on the field, apart from minor tweaks, is what it is. And with that locked down and his latest blunder unfolding, Millen finally outlived his usefulness.

(Note - one of the side discussions coming out of the Millen firing was the ridiculous question of "Whether another ex-player will ever get another GM job". Of course one will. Just hopefully not one with no talent, no experience, and the staying power of an 18 year old who's double-fisted a bottle of Viagra.)
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