DETROIT – In an open letter to fans, high-ranking officials with the Detroit Lions called the last-place team “very competitive,” touched on the organization’s long-term plan and told fans they “deserve a winning team.”
The Lions are once again heading for a last-place finish in the NFC North Division. A fan base that has seen its team win one playoff game in the last 62 years was once again left rooting for draft position by the middle of November.
After starting the season 2-0-1, the Lions have dropped 10 of 11 games, including seven straight.
To be fair, franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford played in only eight games before an injury wiped out the second half of his season. But even with Stafford, the Lions were 3-4-1 and had lost four of five games before handing the reins to Jeff Driskel.
On Wednesday, a day after the team announced head coach Matt Patricia and General Manager Bob Quinn would return for another season, team owner Martha Ford, President Rod Wood and Vice Chair Sheila Ford Hamp sent an open letter to fans addressing the state of the franchise.
Letter sent to fans
Here’s the full letter:
"Our 2019 season has not gone as anticipated by anyone in our organization. Our team has played hard and well enough to be very competitive. It has been well-documented that we are one of only three teams to have held the lead in each of our first 12 games. Unfortunately, all too often, we have come up a few plays short of victory. Our current win-loss record is ultimately very disappointing.
"As we evaluate this season, we look beyond just our record. We are striving to build a team with a strong foundation of high-character players and coaches, that is physically and mentally tough, with depth at every position and one that can be successful over many years, not just one season. We see signs of this foundation in our team’s toughness, competitiveness and culture. Injuries happen in the NFL and are never an excuse. Nonetheless, our team has played through serious injuries this season to some of our best players. Despite the injuries, we have remained competitive in each game and our team depth showed up as a strength.
"We also believe that the most successful teams in our league have a long-term plan, stability in leadership and exhibit patience to follow their plan. To that end, we are committed to year three of Coach Patricia’s plan. To be clear, our expectation is for the Lions to be a playoff contender in 2020.
"To our dedicated fans: You deserve a winning team that you are excited to cheer for and proud to represent. Our entire organization is working to make the Lions a consistently winning team.
"To our loyal season ticket members: Thank you for your continued support. We are announcing today that once again there will be no price increases for season tickets at Ford Field and several sections at the stadium will see price decreases. We want our fans to fill Ford Field for every game, continuing to make it the great home field advantage that inspires our players and makes it difficult for our opponents.
"Thank you for your continued support, Happy Holidays and GO LIONS!
Martha Firestone Ford
Sheila Ford Hamp
Here are some of the quotes that stood out from the letter.
“Our team has played hard and well enough to be very competitive It has been well-documented that we are one of only three teams to have held the lead in each of our first 12 games.”
- Stop. One playoff win in 62 years. These fans don’t want to hear about playing hard and being competitive.
“To be clear, our expectation is for the Lions to be a playoff contender in 2020.”
- This is how it should be, however, this is the same franchise that said nine wins wasn’t going to cut it two years ago when it fired Jim Caldwell and then turned around and kept a coach who will likely finish 3-12-1 this year.
“To our dedicated fans: You deserve a winning team that you are excited to cheer for and proud to represent.”
- No truer words have been spoken by Lions brass in years. Lions fans pack Ford Field week-in and week-out with very little reward. This team never rewards its fans with actual on-field results, but they keep coming back. Incompetent coach after incompetent coach has come through Detroit and the fan support has, for the most part, held strong.
“We are announcing today that once again there will be no price increases for season tickets at Ford Field and several sections at the stadium will see price decreases.”
- Let’s acknowledge the subtle “once again” in there. Then we can move on and fully support the decision not to ask for more money from fans who already overpay for a consistently disappointing product.