Tom Kowalski of mlive.com returned from a week-ish long hiatus to bring us this whopper of an admission:"
"I'll never forget the day that the Lions took Harrington with the third overall pick in 2002. Just minutes after they made the selection, I got a tip from someone who was in the Lions' war room that Mornhinweg was furious with the decision. After quickly getting it confirmed, I wrote about it and went on the radio with the information.Within minutes of that happening, the Lions' public relations department set up a quick meeting with me and Mornhinweg - this is while the draft was still in its early stages. (I had never experienced anything like that before or since.) Mornhinweg spent 30 minutes trying to convince me that my sources were wrong and that he actually was on board with the pick. I knew it was total nonsense and Mornhinweg admitted years later that he never wanted Harrington - he wanted to trade the pick and, if that didn't work, he wanted cornerback Quentin Jammer."
Martin Mayhew, when (repeatedly) asked how he could be qualified to run a team when most of his real experience has come while working under Matt Millen, has said that he saw, from a very close range, how not to do it. This example shows you exactly the kind of things he saw: egoes clashing, arm wrestling, territorial pissing matches. The ownership dictating to management, management directing the front office, the management and front office running roughshod over the coaching staff, nobody working together, everyone pulling in different directions. We saw it over and over and over during the Millen era: there was never a plan, there was never consistency, there was never a direction, but there WAS plenty of shouting and territory-marking.
At every step of the regime change: the hiring of Lewand and Mayhew, the firing of Marinelli, the steady-paced coaching search with multiple second interviews and multiple meet-the-pressers, the hiring of Jim Schwartz, his steady-paced coordinator search and hires, their slow filling out of the rest of the staff, and the long search for "the third football mind" and eventual hire of Shack Harris, there has been one message repeated over and over and over. Mayhew and Lewand had a vision of the team they wanted the Lions to be, and they wanted a coach who shared that vision. The coach's ideas of how to build a team was the same as the front office's, and he hired coordinators and assistants who understood and could execute those ideas. Mayhew and Lewand wanted a credentialed personnel man to coordinate and oversee the scouts, and provide his own input and guidance--and they waited until they found the man with the right combination of experience and success. All of the personnel moves made this season have precisely matched what the front office and coaching staff has said are the goals: run, stop the run, get bigger, get smarter, and get tougher. There is a clear, stated plan, and all the available evidence says that the plan is being executed, from the highest levels on down.
This is not to say that there is, to borrow a phrase from my friend Steve at Detroit Lions Weblog, "hierarchical simpatico". Everyone doesn't agree 100% all the time on every decision. As an example, I get the sense that Mayhew never liked Drew Stanton as a pick, and DS doesn't figure into his medium- or long-term plans at all. However, Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan have each seemed genuinely interested in working with Drew and seeing what they have in him. However, it's my belief that if Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan came to Martin Mayhew and said, "We've evaluated Matt Stafford, and he's no good. He can't be our quarterback", then Mayhew would not draft Stafford #1 overall.
Of course I have no idea what Schwartz or Linehan REALLY think about Stafford--maybe his workout really was "flawless" and they desperately want him under center. But I do have an idea about what Mayhew thinks about Millen. I do have an idea that Millen's greatest mistake was selecting Joey Harrington, knowing his coach didn't want him and couldn't use him. The folly of acquiescing to the Ford's wishes over the pleas of his scouts and personnel men, and the hubris of sticking it to his head coach by making Mornhinweg go out and spend thirty minutes lying through his teeth to Kowalski about how happy he is to have Harrington. These are the greatest sins that Matt Millen committed, and they're ones I know Mayhew has committed to not making.
So, I've said it before and I'll say it again: if Matt Stafford is the pick--and at this point, I believe he will be--know that it is because Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan have every confidence that they can mold this young man into an excellent NFL quarterback.