Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tom Lewand: How Much is Enough?

Tom Lewand: How Much is Enough?

June 30th, 2010 | by detfan1979 |

While title of this article has many interpretations, I think all of them pretty much apply. How much coverage of the event is enough? How much public humiliation is enough? How much punishment is enough? How much alcohol is enough?

Despite the tremendous ifseason thus far, nothing to date (including the draft) has exploded my inbox like Mr. Lewand’s arrest on charges of DUI last Friday. I’ve had several calling for his job either via firing or him stepping down. I’ve had others try to justify his actions, and seem as though nothing is wrong with what he did. The most clear comment/question fell somewhere in the middle, and I will address that today — along with my thoughts on both ends of the spectrum.

From Scott:I don’t want to downplay the severity of his actions, many of us have children, and don’t have a lot of sympathy for Drunk Driving especially w/ BAL .21. However people make mistakes everyday and he is human. I personally don’t see him getting much of a punishment, because if I remember right Joe Cullen was disciplined by the team not the league, for his drive thru issue. Anyways to the heart of my question. Being as this is the most important period of time for Tom’s role on the team, do you feel this may at all effect his ability to get the rookies signed on time.
To clarify-

1-How do you suspend an Exec. Or due they just fine him?
2-if they can suspend him who signs the Rookies?

I like Scott’s initial point that people make mistakes every day, and he is human. While Mr. Lewand makes a tidy sum as team president, lets not get him confused with the players he is signing to multi-million dollar bonuses. When it comes to players in the top compensation tiers, there is no reason not to have a personal driver, personal bar, or just plain pay someone to drive you about. Period. From the sounds of things, Mr. Lewand has a problem, is aware of it, and is seeking treatment. Keep in mind, a majority of alcoholics in recovery have relapses as they move down the path to sobriety. This is true even amongst those trying their hardest, and doing their best to avoid bad situations.

Let’s also keep some perspective – This is a first offense for Mr. Lewand, and ask yourself: How many people are charged with drunken driving (DI/OWI/et al.) each year in Michigan alone (35,534 in 2008)– and how many of those have to deal with a police dash cam being posted all over the internetand the world while they are trying to dealwith what is, in the best of cases, a difficult time. Should every person who gets one DUI lose their job immediately? What other offenses would cause immediate termination, whether or not related to their business? A first time offense is like it or not a misdemeanor offense in Michigan. How about driving 20mph over the speed limit? Driving too fast for conditions? Causing an at-fault accident? All are dangerous and have potential to cause severe harm. What about after he is fired? What then? Unemployment forever? Jail forever? What does he do then other than try to geta different job. Second offense? That shows a habitual lack of judgement versus a one time slip up, and would in my mind justify termination as it identifies a trend, versus an aberration.

On the flip side of this, according to NHSTA statistics there were 282 alchohol related traffic deaths (.08 or higher Blood Alcohol Content) in 2008. What is especially disturbing is that at 0.21, Mr. Lewand was in the “Hard Core” range of intoxication ( 0.15 or greater) — which accounts for 70% of the alcohol related traffic deaths. He didn’t just have “one too many” unless by “one” you mean “one fifth of hard liquor”. Statistically speaking, there was a very good (bad?) chance that Mr. Lewand driving at the level of impairment he was could cause a fatal accident. I’m not comfortable with that at all personally — it shows me that while it may be his first time getting caught, this likely isn’t the first time it has happened. How is a lack of discipline and self control there effecting him elsewhere in his life? Is it impacting his job performance?

So what now? Mr. Goddell has indicated earlier this year (and reiterated again) that ALL NFL players and executives – himself included – are subject to the personal conduct policy of the NFL. I foresee the NFL slapping Mr. Lewand with a hefty fine — and the Lions could possibly give him some administrative leave. Will this be before or after the draft picks sign? That I am not sure of. My guess will be they do a thorough investigation before they levy any penalties, which will likely carry them into the start of camp.

Don’t forget that Mr. Mayhew oversees player acquisition and that there are other front office members who are more than qualified to finish negotiations should the Lions or the NFL act sooner. James Harris (Senior Personnel Exec) is still in the fold, Sheldon White (VP of Pro Personnel) is also available to assist Mayhew. There are also other members of the staff who put together most of these documents. The Lions signed 3rd round CB Amari Spievey today - their 3rd draft pick to sign since mini-camp ended, despite Mr. Lewand’s personal issues. Unnamed sources have indicated that Mr. Mayhew and either Mr. White or Mr. Harris are the ones who completed the signings, although that is not confirmed.

I’m not sure how the NFL would go about suspending an executive, although unpaid administrative leave either from the team, the league, or both would be the logical answer. As to when — as with any suspension in the NFL that is usually hard to predict. I also foresee a fine, as I said, for Mr. Lewand. I expect at this point the Lions will stand behind him within reason - as they should – because of all the good he has done for the organization. They will discipline him while keeping him working and helping him through it. BUT – IF anything even remotely like this happens again, or he doesn’t keep up with rehabbing/getting past this — whatever the need may be — he should be let go. Immediately. No apologies. This approach sends both a message of loyalty AND that misbehavior and poor representation of the organization will not be tolerated. — “Once, shame on you — Twice you’re outta here.” Unlike Baseball, in most of the business world you are lucky to get one strike and stay around. The second one sends you packing. The Lions should take a public stand on this and make it crystal clear so that the players, the fans, the NFL, and the rest of the staff know exactly how the Lions will handle this in the future.

This front office – especially Mr. Mayhew – have done such a great job the past year and half that it is a shame for something like this to mar the progress that was made. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Rating: 10.0/10 (7 votes cast)
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4 Responses to “Tom Lewand: How Much is Enough?”

  1. By Clusterfox on Jul 1, 2010

    Thanks DF! I appreciate the insight.

    Now that this is recieving National attention, I think the one thing I wish people would understand is that this was Houghten Lake area, Roscommon county. Having been in that area last weekend, I’m pretty sure there aren’t any Taxi services running. Maybe in GR, Lansing or Detroit, But otherwise people need to realise he probably didn’t have a taxi as a choice. Now, I can appreciate that he may not have considered it anyways. But People in Big Cities all over the United States as well as some in Michigan need to realise there is not a taxi sitting on every street corner. Sometimes its not even worth waiting for, there won’t be one coming.


    Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)
  2. By detfan1979 on Jul 1, 2010

    That’s a very good point, and one that deserves mention I totally overlooked in regards to Taxis – and lack thereof – outside of metro areas.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  3. By patrick aka motownmann on Jul 3, 2010

    Taxis or not….he has a cell phone. He could have called somebody…even more so…how come people saw him at the function KNEW he was drunk and let him drive home? There really is not an excuse, even though all of us at some point and time have done something boneheaded. I wish him the best and know he will recover and learn from this. But I think that the media, us included, have really ran this into the ground. Great write up! I love reading your stuff.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

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