Part three of our series of July grades takes a look at the Lions' owner, William Clay Ford.
While people have been very kind to Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz in their voting, it should come as no surprise that I am expecting something completely different for Ford. After all, this is the man who has been the one constant with the Lions' lack of success ever since he bought the team in 1964, and this is also the man who let Matt Millen keep his job for as long as he did. While Mayhew and Schwartz seem to have the Lions moving in the right direction, it's hard to look past all of Ford's faults as owner of the team, especially considering his sample size is so much bigger than that of Mayhew and Schwartz.
The thing that makes this poll different is the fact that Ford has been the Lions' owner for so long, whereas Mayhew and Schwartz have only been doing their jobs for a couple years. That is part of why people are willing to vote an A or B for those two despite not having any success on the field. There is a honeymoon period, and we are currently still in it. For Ford, however, it just feels like a bad dream where you never wake up with the way he has handled this team. Sure, things seem to be moving in the right direction now, but the fact that it took this long and we still don't have anything more than hope to show for it says a lot.
Taking all of that into consideration, my vote for the job Ford has done as owner of the Lions is an F. While that may seem harsh, the Lions' lack of success since he's owned the team speaks for itself. Sure, there have been positive moments over the years, many of which include Barry Sanders, but one playoff win since 1957 is just downright pathetic.
It'd be one thing if the football universe was just seemingly working against the Lions every step of the way, but that's not the case at all. Ford has simply failed as an owner, and the last decade is proof of that. I hope in a few years we will be able to commend him for going with Mayhew and Schwartz and finally seeing the light as an NFL owner, but for now I can't bring myself to say he has done anything but failed Lions fans for the last 46 years.