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Judge Smales

Detroit Paper Editorial on the Lions ownership

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This was in the Detroit Free Press today. Anyone think the NFL would really follow through on this? If they've waited this long...


FROM OUR READERS: Lions don't deserve 'Detroit'


December 30, 2006




What happened to that phenomenal team that won four pro football championships in its first 23 years but hasn't gotten anywhere near one in its last 42?


William Clay Ford.


For many years now, it has been abundantly clear that the cause of the Detroit Lions' collapse is the one constant through all of it, the man at the top of the organization.


If W.C. Ford, who took sole ownership of the team in 1964, had only maintained its proud past, when the Lions were the toast, not the toads, of pro football, they would by now have seven Super Bowl victories on top of their four NFL championships. But, except for twice hosting the game, the Lions haven't come close to the Super Bowl, winning just one playoff game in all the Ford years. Even worse, in an era when their community needs heroes and winners, the Lions have brought humiliation and scorn upon the city that gives them their name.


Enough is enough. It is time to take back our name from the Lions. And it is time for the NFL to take the Lions from the Fords.


It has always been assumed that since "Mr. Ford" owns the team, there is nothing anyone else can do. But W.C. Ford doesn't own Detroit. If a sports team takes the name of a city for its own, especially since it doesn't compensate the city, doesn't it have a responsibility to the city it represents? Does it have the right to abuse the reputation and image of that city without consequence?


The City of Detroit must refuse to allow the Lions to further dishonor its name. Let the team be known as the Ford Lions. Let the Ford family shoulder the burden of abject failure. Would the Fords want to associate their cars with this lemon of a football team? Of course not. It is time to make the Lions accountable.


The National Football League has always maintained that it is concerned for the communities its teams represent. If this means more than tossing a few dollars in the direction of local charities, then the NFL must excise the ownership cancer that has debilitated and disabled this team.


The NFL constitution and bylaws give the league the power to act in its own best interests. To allow the Lions' infection to fester is clearly a danger to the future of the league, which must take responsibility for the quality of its product.


The NFL describes itself as an organization of professional football teams for the purpose of entertainment. The Lions have not been entertaining for a long time. Nor have they played pro-quality football. They fail as NFL members by the NFL's own definition.


Every team is expected to have losing years. Through its draft and free agent policies, the NFL has gone out of its way to enable bad teams to become competitive again. But the Lions have only gotten worse.


Their losing culture has become self-perpetuating. Decent players won't play here. Winning coaches won't coach here. Why go through the grief, the aggravation, and the losing, losing, losing? Barry Sanders walked away at a cost of millions of dollars rather than endure the year or two it would have taken him to write his name in the record books.


The NFL is aware the Ford football product has become a detriment to the league. It has the power to act.


Joseph Carr, NFL president when the Lions came to Detroit from Portsmouth, Ohio, in 1934, said, "The program will be a success here. Detroit is recognized all over the country as a great sports town." Indeed, Detroit is a great sports town. Except for the Lions, the teams that carry the city's name have continued to contribute to Detroit's reputation as the City of Champions.


It doesn't matter any more how or why any of this happened. It only matters that for 42 years the Fords have proved that they cannot or will not fix it. The City of Detroit through its mayor or council must do something about the Lions because William Clay Ford is doing nothing.


Forbid the Lions the use of the city's name. Restore the name when the NFL makes the changes necessary to restore the Lions to respectability.


THOMAS HUNTER of Bloomfield Hills is a Detroit native who was 15 when he watched the Lions win their last championship at Briggs Stadium in 1957.

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Now that's what I call a passionate fan.


The ONLY solution to this problem is for the fans to stop going to the games and stop buying the merchandise. I don't know if the city can somehow "strongarm" Ford into relinquishing ownership, but that would be interesting.


Didn't Ford just ask for multi-billion dollar loan from the government to aid it's auto plants? Seems to me that a stipulation for getting that loan would be that the Ford's have to sell the Lions. :D

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