“Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players. Your goal should be to buy wins.” Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill in Moneyball, is an unassuming, intellectual Yale graduate with an uncanny ability to assess and evaluate professional baseball players. I’ll take Brand’s comment a step further. “And when you buy wins, buy sustained success by embracing your town’s brand, whatever that brand may be.”
Martin Mayhew, unassuming and intellectually savvy in his own right, has not only mastered the art of acquiring talent (in every possible way), but he has also proven to embrace and understand the culture of the city he represents.
Mayhew’s hiring of Jim Schwartz has not only turned out to be a savvy coaching hire, it’s now demonstrating awareness that the Lions didn’t merely need a great football coach, but they needed a head coach that would live to love the Detroit Lions organization and the city of Detroit’s brand. These factors go beyond X’s and O’s, and cut to the core of how to sustain success over a period of time.
As much as Schwartz was criticized and mocked for ‘handshake gate’ by the national media, what shouldn’t be overlooked is the “fight.” The younger Lions players may or may not have initially misunderstood his message, but what they did see was a head coach respecting his fans and home turf. In other words, Schwartz told the NFL to take notice – we aren’t the same ole’ Lions.
The key now is maintaining and growing the aura of toughness, a brand the city of Detroit has always understood and embraced, dating back to the Detroit Pistons of the 80’s.
As Jack McCloskey and Chuck Daly built the Bad Boys and changed the culture of the Detroit Pistons in the 80’s, parallels may be made with Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz today. Sure, you don’t want your players hurting your team like Ndamukong Suh did on Thanksgiving Day, but the Lions have finally understood that in order to remove the laughing stock label, a brash change was necessary.
I’ve often wondered whether or not Mayhew analyzed the Bad Boys blueprint and ‘Spirit of Detroit.’ Maybe I’m giving Mayhew too much credit. Maybe he never thought of what kind of personality the city of Detroit needed to “reach” its fans and let the world know that Detroit was serious about being a feared football town. Maybe he never analyzed the history of Detroit sports, and never tapped into the culture of a town imbedded with blue-collar toughness. But what if he did? What if he’s as shrewd as is being suggested. If he didn’t, Schwartz certainly did after he was hired. Having Bob Seger and Kid Rock hang out in the locker room after a win, and visiting an auto plant may seem trivial, but they’re not; they’re actions that tell a city, “I understand you, and I’m going to put a team on the field that will fight for what you are about.”
The Detroit brand has been embraced. The Lions finally get it. The looming question facing the Lions now is, how we will pay our key players, or as Brand puts it, buy more wins?
Martin Mayhew is shrewd. He’ll make wise decisions regarding player personnel, even if at first you find yourself scratching your head (drafting Pettigrew over Oher).
This leads me to my second post – draft possibilities.
By: Dustin J Quarrella