Is Firing Caldwell Racist?

Official Lions Reporter

By Sonja Greenfield //@Mom23RN

Yesterday an article was posted in the Detroit Free Press.

I read it.  And I paused.  And I thought about it.  And I must respectfully disagree.

The discussion on race has been brought back to the forefront in the past 2 years, especially in the NFL.  This doesn’t need to fall into that category.  The motivation for firing Jim Caldwell, in my humble opinion, is not based on racism.  People may disagree with me, and that’s OK.  While there have been plenty of instances of racism both overt and subtle in the NFL, this isn’t one of them.  Now, maybe my opinion makes me less woke.  Totally fine.  But I’ve tried to see it.  And I can’t see it.  And here’s why:

    1.  In Hayes first argument, he mentions Caldwell’s 1st season as head coach.  The team went 11-5 with the infamous Pick Up The Flag play in Dallas.  Fair.  It was a crazy, crazy play.  How about what happened after that play?  When that play happened, it was 3rd and 1 and Lions had a 20-17 lead and were driving.  Instead of going for it on 4th down, Jim Caldwell went conservative and decided to punt it.  And Sam Martin shanked it.  And that was pretty much the game.  If you want to relieve it, feel free to click here.
    2. Hayes then cites the 1-8 start to the 2015 season.  Slow starts happen sometimes, I know.  But on a team that has high expectations, that can’t happen.  That lead to the firing of GM Martin Mayhew and President Tom Lewand and brought in the current management team.   One could argue that Caldwell could have lost his job then.  But he didn’t.  New GM Bob Quinn wanted to evaluate what he had.  The players liked him, Mrs. Ford liked him, so for now, he stayed.  Caldwell and the Lions then finished out the season 6-2, including an elusive win over the Green Bay Packers IN Green Bay.
    3. Hayes also cites a lack of a “honeymoon”.  Caldwell was brought in to take this team to the “next level.” Which means playoff WINS. Caldwell’s predecessor Jim Schwartz was able to bring the Lions back to respectability nationally. Caldwell’s mission, so to speak, was to win playoff games.  Last time I checked, he hasn’t done that. Besides, this fan base isn’t going to give ANYONE a true honeymoon.  Golden Tate said today,

       Lions fans are ready for some playoff wins.  (Say it with me peeps, “One Playoff Win Since 1991”)

    4. Haye’s then says that people like Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett have had less talent than the Lions, have produced less and no one is calling for their jobs.  Last time I checked, the Vikings won the division this season and are in the playoffs: WITH a backup quarterback, and their star running back Dalvin Cook out for the season.  AND the Lions beat them earlier in the season IN Minnesota. The Vikings were a game behind the Lions at the time. Jason Garrett… well… I think that’s a different situation.

There have been a couple of more questionable calls that have plagued Jim Caldwell’s tenure.  For instance, the Hail Mary against Green Bay in Ford Field.  Everyone remember what Jim Caldwell said after?  They were preparing for a lateral.   And who wasn’t on the field?  (hint:  Number 81)



A couple more questionable calls in the Caldwell era.  Let’s go no further than the 2017 season.  Let’s look back at the Sunday night game against Pittsburgh? There were a few more questionable calls during that game. Click here to refresh your memory about this game.     Then there was the Baltimore game. In that abysmal game, they had a whole 9 players on the field to play defense.

I’m sure there are other questionable calls that can mark Caldwell’s tenure here with the Lions, and you can go back and review them yourselves.

Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that Bob Quinn came in after the 2015 season.  He hasn’t made any drastic changes to the coaching staff. Yet.  It would have been totally reasonable to let Caldwell go in favor of bringing in “His Guy” to coach.  Quinn didn’t do that.  I feel that he has given Caldwell plenty of time to get this team to playoff wins, and that still hasn’t happened.

Had the Lions beat the Bengals, I don’t think we’re having this conversation.  I think we’d talking about if Caldwell beats Green Bay, he could be here for another season, and I could have seen that happening.  Now, I think Quinn is ready to take the next step in putting “His” name on this team.

Bottom line, Caldwell has dealt with a lot of players leaving, injuries and lack of a run game.  But he has also made tons of questionable judgment calls during his time as Lions head coach.  When trying to advance your team to playoff wins, you can’t make mistakes like having 9 players on the field, and not taking points in games.

The conversation about race is an important one.  Please don’t think that because I don’t think that this particular instance is racist, that there isn’t any in the NFL.  Or that racism isn’t an issue.  Because it is. Racism is alive and well in 2017, unfortunately, and Hayes addresses some of the racism he’s faced in the article.  I truly sympathize and empathize with what he has gone through. There are many instances of racism both covert and overt in society, including the NFL.  But this, in my humble opinion is not an example of it.


Talk Lions with Sonja on Twitter @Mom23RN

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