DETROIT (AP) – The Lions have been the NFL’s worst team the last five seasons.

Instead of pushing fans to apathy, the team has sunk so low that its followers are fed up and furious.

In Detroit’s loss Sunday at home to Minnesota, the crowd chanted for team president Matt Millen to be fired – after tiring of booing quarterback Jeff Garcia – and created a scene with banners, signs and shenanigans.

The loudest roar came when the first of many fans held up a “Fire Millen” sign, and the jeers couldn’t be ignored when security confiscated it.

Then, stadium personnel scurried to take away other anti-Millen messages that popped up throughout Ford Field.

The commotion carried on as one fan shuffled from section to section, dodging security, with a “Fire Millen” sign hoisted to the delight of most spectators while the Lions were in the middle of a rallying drive.

Ford Field spokeswoman Risa Balayem said even pro-Lions signs have been confiscated.

The Lions (4-8) will get a reprieve from the hometown scrutiny Sunday night at Green Bay (2-10). But in Detroit’s home finale Dec. 18 against Cincinnati, fans might create another spectacle at Ford Field and on the sidewalks surrounding the indoor stadium.

The Lions insist banners or signs of any kind aren’t permitted at their games, but that is not stopping their fans from planning to show how angry they are with the lowly franchise. The Lions have had only one playoff win since 1957.

Some fans have painted messages on their faces, and more plan to come to the next home game with “Fire Millen” printed on hats, T-shirts and sweat shirts.

Local radio station WDFN is sponsoring an Angry Fan March before the home finale and is taking suggestions for a Lions-related message to put on a billboard it has reserved near the stadium.

“People are sick of letting the Lions waste their Sundays and watching them become a national joke over the past five years,” said WDFN host Sean Baligian, who came up with the idea for the march. “The Lions don’t want fans in the stands with signs, and we’re cool with that. So we’re going to walk around the stadium before the Bengals game because we want the Lions to make changes.

“Matt Millen is a good guy with good intentions, but he doesn’t have a clue when it comes to running an NFL franchise.”

Another sports-talk station in the Detroit area, WXYT, has played a part in stirring up the fans’ unrest this week, too.

After Garcia’s weekly segment on WXYT ended Monday, callers responded by saying it sounded like he was making excuses. That compelled Garcia’s girlfriend, Carmella DeCesare, to call the station to defend him.

Garcia, who was released by Cleveland in February, expected to join an up-and-coming team, but he has discovered the Lions are a mess on and off the field.

“It is different than what I expected,” Garcia said Monday.

AP-ES-12-06-05 1823EST


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