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Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Millen returning; Lions 24-72 under his watch

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Another subpar season won't cost Lions president Matt Millen his job.

Six Years Later ...
Matt Millen
The record since president Matt Millen was hired in 2001 by the Detroit Lions, who are an NFL-worst 24-72 in that time:
Year
W-L-T
How finished
2001
2-14-0
Last in NFC Central
2002
3-13-0
Last in NFC Central
2003
5-11-0
Last in NFC Central
2004
6-10-0
Third in NFC North
2005
5-11-0
Third in NFC North
2006
3-13-0
Last in NFC North

Millen, who has a 24-72 record in his first six seasons, will return next season. He still has four years left on the contract extension he was given last season.

Millen said Tuesday that quitting is not an option he has considered despite criticism of the team's dismal performance in his tenure.

"I'll never quit,'' Millen said in an interview with a small group of reporters, including The Detroit News, which posted some of his comments on its Web site. "I can't do that. I don't even consider that."

"It's the way I'm made."

Asked why he wouldn't quit, Millen replied: "You're given a job, regardless of what it is. You keep on working and trying to get the thing done."

The Lions beat Dallas on Sunday, closing the season an NFC-low 3-13.

Detroit was proud of proving it didn't quit on the miserable season by beating a playoff team in Week 17. The victory snapped a seven-game skid and a winless mark on the road in 2006.

It also cost the Lions the No. 1 pick in the draft -- an asset they could've used to perhaps trade for picks and players.

"I really don't want to be one or two," receiver Roy Williams said. "I'd rather be picking 31st."

Millen would, too, because such a low pick indicates success.

The Lions, who fired defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson and offensive line coach Larry Beightol on Tuesday, have struggled so much since Millen, a former linebacker and analyst, took over that they're had the No. 2 pick twice, No. 3 once and three other top-10 picks.

Some of the players taken with those picks haven't panned out and that begins to explain the mess the team is in six years after Millen arrived to lead a once-mediocre franchise.

About 100 Detroit fans held a protest during the second quarter of the last home game of the season Dec. 24 against the Chicago Bears. The fans left their seats midway through the quarter and gathered in Ford Field's atrium, where they chanted "Fire Millen" while watching the game on the scoreboard.

Before Detroit's final home game, Millen said he talked to team owner William Clay Ford after each game and when they met in the middle of the season, they talked about plans for the next year.

Quarterback Joey Harrington and receiver Charles Rogers -- a third and second pick overall, respectively -- were discarded in 2006 and some have speculated that 2005 first-round pick Mike Williams will be the next to go.

Williams expects and wants to be back.

"People call me a bust, so when you get that label, there's no pressure," said Williams, who had a touchdown on Sunday to end his 30-game scoreless streak. "I don't worry about people talking about my weight and work ethic because I'm doing what I love to do and a lot of people can't say that.

"Things haven't started out pretty for me in the NFL, but that's going to change."

Detroit has more needs than picks in the draft and not enough cap space to fill every hole with free agency.

"There are a lot of things that need to be fixed," quarterback Jon Kitna said.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.