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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 83

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This is the grave of William Clay Ford.

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William Clay Ford was born into American royalty in 1925, the son of Edsel Ford and grandson of Henry Ford. He was rich, did some rich person things, was very active in the family business, blah blah blah.

The real reason to discuss Ford is his ownership of the Detroit Lions. Under his ownership, the Lions reached an astounding level of ineptitude that never ended until his death, if it has since then. Ford bought the Lions in 1963. In 50 years of owning the club before his death in 2014, the Lions won 1 playoff game. 1!!! Here is a list of 5 defining moments of Ford’s ownership tenure, mostly terrible. I guess it’s fitting that he bought the team on the day JFK was shot; for the people of Detroit, the president’s assassination was only the second worst event that day. Even Barry Sanders couldn’t take it anymore, quitting while he was at the height of his powers, realizing that he would destroy his body for a franchise that would never win.

The real highlight of course was Ford hiring Matt Millen to be General Manager in 2001. In fact, Ford only hired 3 GMs in his 50 years, putting up with endless losing for all of them. The first guy lasted 22 years and never won a playoff game! Millen and Ford’s combined idiocy sent the team to a 0-16 record, the only time that feat has been achieved in NFL history. Millen’s fine 1st round picks included Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, and, yes, Joey Harrington, although I maintain that Harrington could have been a decent QB in a different system, even if he would never really fit into an NFL locker room. At least one Millen knew his dad couldn’t draft his way out of box, but it wasn’t Matt. Ford kept Millen around forever. Why? Because he felt his GM was a good Christian! Now that’s a way to run a franchise. It’s really too bad Millen was fired too, as the way he was talking up Christian Hackenberg could have led to another era of greatness in the Motor City! The only reason Ford finally dumped Millen is that Ford’s own son publicly announced that he would do it if he was in charge. You really have to love how Millen took it with class too, calling himself a martyr for the entire problems of the city of Detroit. Really, only Al Davis was a worse owner over the last 20 years and at least Davis did this on a lived history of success. Ford even managed to make Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill look competent. Dan Snyder may see Ford as a model of how to ruin a franchise.

Anyway, Henry Clay Ford lived a long life that I’m sure was successful in some other way before dying in 2014 at the age of 88. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan.

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