POSTED: 10:11 am EDT September 24, 2008
UPDATED: 7:01 pm EDT September 24, 2008
Matt Millen is no longer the Detroit Lions president and general manager, according to a statement from the teamâ€™s owner and Chairman William Clay Ford.
â€œI have relieved Matt Millen of his duties effective immediately,â€ said Ford. â€œI believe that this decision is in the best interest of this organization. I appreciate Mattâ€™s efforts. Matt worked tirelessly during his tenure to win, and he would be the first one to tell you that you have to win in this league. It just didnâ€™t work out.
A rumor of Millenâ€™s removal circulated several sports news Web sites earlier in the day on Wednesday and Millenâ€™s wife was quoted by ESPN's Chris Mortensen on her husband leaving the position.
Millen has been in the position since 2001.
Executive Vice President and COO Tom Lewand will now report to Ford on all business, organizational and NFL matters, according to the statement.
Martin Mayhew will become general manager and report to Ford on all football matters. Cedric Saunders has been named the vice president of football operations.
The statement continues with this:
â€œThe support of our fans continues to be incredible and they deserve a winner. Every decision we make must focus on that goal, and I believe this decision today will allow this team to move forward in a positive manner. I am very disappointed with where we are as a team after our start this season. Our sole focus now is preparing for our next game against Chicago. The entire organization must work together and do whatever we can to make this a successful season. Despite our record, it is still early and there is time to turn this season around. These decisions are for the duration of the 2008 season. Once the season is over, we will undergo a thorough and comprehensive evaluation of our entire football operation and put together a plan that we believe will transform this team into a winner.â€
Millen has been criticized continuously for having one of the worst teams in NFL history.
Sources close to the team told Local 4 that Millen could have been let go for two reasons. One, because of the team's record and second because Millen was responsible for the talent of the team -- which has been criticized as lacking.
Drivers of vehicles whizzing past the Allen Park facility beeped their horns and gleefully yelled out about the apparent end of the Millen era.
Eddie Gates drove through the team's parking lot in his minivan as his girlfriend, Sue Stanton, held a sign, "Millen Must Go To Get a Super Bowl," out the window.
"I've been a season-ticket holder for 28 years and because they fired Matt Millen, I'm going to renew," said Gates of nearby Madison Heights. "This is the happiest day of my life."
The Lions are 31-84 since Millen took over.
Earlier this week, Bill Ford Jr., son of owner William Clay Ford, said that he felt Millen should go, but that it was his father's decision, not his.