DETROIT Matt Millen's highly criticized and unproductive tenure with the Lions has ended.
Millen has been the president and CEO since January 2001. Reports have swirled since late morning that he was no longer with the team. The Free Press has confirmed his departure with a person who has spoken with a high-ranking team official.
For several hours Wednesday, a small army of media has been waiting at the team's headquarters for word of any kind. Shortly after noon, William Clay Ford Sr. arrived at the facility. It was not immediately clear when an announcement would be forthcoming.
It's unclear whether Millen was fired or removed himself from the equation, but the news comes just days after Bill Ford Jr. publicly stated he would have fired Millen if it were his decision but he lacked the authority to do so. The authority rested with his father, who has been the sole owner of the Lions since 1964.
Phone messages left for Millen, head coach Rod Marinelli and other team officials were not returned.
First reports came from unnamed sources by FoxSports.com, WDFN-AM and ESPN. Reporter Chris Mortensen of ESPN said he confirmed the departure with Millen's wife, Patty.
The Lions' 0-3 start this season stirred the groundswell for Millen's apparent demise. The Lions are an NFL-worst 31-84 since Millen took over in 2001. Millen has gone through three head coaches, none of whom have been able to turn the Lions into a winner.
Although as of late morning no official word had come from the Lions regarding Millen, reports of his firing had fans excited.
People were driving past the team's headquarters, honking horns and cheering. One man in a pickup yelled, "Finally!" as he drove past the entrance.
Offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo, who was entering the facility to work out, said he hadn't heard anything about Millen's firing.
"I don't know," he said. "I just had a baby. This is my first time out of the hospital."
Mulitalo said he respects Millen. "Of course, I respect him in a lot of different ways," he said. "He was a former player and just the title that he had. As a professional, you respect that."
Was Millen's firing necessary after the team's 0-3 start?
"I don't think so," Mulitalo said. "That's what a lot of the media says, but whenever something like this happens ... definitely it's tough."