Statement from Lions owner and chairman Martha Firestone Ford

Posted Jan 1, 2018

“On behalf of my family and the Lions organization I would like to thank Jim Caldwell for his exemplary leadership and service to our team and our community over the past four years.

“I believe Jim is one of the finest leaders we’ve ever had as our head coach. Not only did he guide us on the field to three winning seasons, but he also set a standard of excellence off the field that had a tremendous impact on everyone in our organization and our entire community.

“As many of our players have already said, his influence on them transcended the game of football and will positively serve them throughout their lives.

“Our organization is better because of Jim, and we are forever grateful. We wish Jim, his wife Cheryl and the entire Caldwell family all the best that life can offer.”


In four years as Lions head coach, Jim Caldwell compiled a record of 36-28 (.563), including a 16-8 record (.667) against NFC North opponents. He had the highest winning percentage by a Lions head coach who coached at least one full season since Buddy Parker from 1951-56 (.671). He also led the Lions to two playoff appearances in 2014 and 2016.

With a 9-7 finish in 2017, Caldwell secured his third winning season in Detroit (11-5 in 2014; 9-7 in 2016; 9-7 in 2017) and became the first Lions head coach since Parker (1951-54) to have at least three winning seasons in his first four years with the club.

Caldwell led the Lions to winning seasons in back-to-back years, the first such accomplishment by the Lions since 1994-95 (9-7 and 10-6, respectively).

Under Caldwell, the Lions accumulated a 16-8 (.667) record against NFC North teams. In his 24 NFC North games, Detroit claimed at least a .500 record against all three NFC North opponents (7-1 record vs. Chicago, 5-3 record vs. Minnesota and 4-4 record vs. Green Bay). The Lions’ 16 NFC North wins under Caldwell from 2014-17 are the most in the NFC North and the fourth-most division wins in the NFL during that period.

His overall .667 winning percentage in the NFC North is the team’s best four-year divisional winning percentage since divisional play first began in 1967.

The Lions finished 2017 with a 5-1 record against NFC North opponents, marking the second time (2014) Caldwell led the team to a 5-1 division record. It also marked the seventh time since divisional alignment first began in 1967 that the Lions won 5 divisional games in a season and only the second time (2014) since realignment to a four-team division in 2002.

Earlier this year, Caldwell’s 14-7 win at Minnesota marked his 30th win as Lions head coach. By reaching 30 career wins with the club in 52 games, he became the fastest Lions head coach to reach 30 career wins since Parker, who recorded 30 wins in 41 games (1951-54).

The Lions finished the 2016 season with a record of 9-7 and earned the team’s second playoff berth in Caldwell’s first three seasons. The last time the Lions made the playoffs twice in a three-year span was 1997 and 1999. Caldwell joined Parker (1952, 1953) and Bobby Ross (1997, 1999) as the only coaches in Lions history to lead the team to the playoffs twice in their first three seasons with the club.

Caldwell’s 2016 season was highlighted by an NFL-record eight fourth-quarter comeback victories. This surpassed the previous record of seven set by the 2009 Indianapolis Colts, who were also coached by Caldwell.

In Caldwell’s first season with the Lions in 2014, Detroit compiled an 11-5 regular season record. Caldwell tied Potsy Clark (1931, Portsmouth Spartans) for the most wins in franchise history by a coach in his first year with the club. He became the third coach in team history to lead the Lions to the playoffs in his first year with Detroit (George Wilson in 1957; Bobby Ross in 1997).

Caldwell is the seventh coach in franchise history (since 1930) to lead the Lions to a winning record (over an entire season) in his first year with the club, and he is one of four coaches (Potsy Clark in 1931, George Wilson in 1962 and Wayne Fontes in 1991) to lead the Lions to 11 wins in a season.

Following a 1-7 start to the 2015 season, Caldwell led the Lions to a 6-2 second-half record and in doing so, Detroit became only the fourth NFL team since 1991 to start a season with one or fewer wins in the first eight games (1-7 or 0-8 record) and finish with a 6-2 record. It marked the Lions' best second-half finish since the team finished 7-1 in 1995.

In seven seasons as a head coach in the NFL, including three with Indianapolis (2009-11), Caldwell has compiled a 62-50 record in 112 games. He has led his team to winning records in five of his seven seasons as head coach.

Off the field, Caldwell also made an incredible impact in the Detroit community. In September 2014, The Jim and Cheryl Caldwell Foundation, in collaboration with the Detroit Lions, opened “The Project Phoenix Learning Center,” a new 21st Century computer lab and learning center at the Detroit Lions Academy. The learning center includes new computers with Promethean ActivBoards, ActivSlate, ActivExpressions, a network printer, internet accessibility and specialized interactive instructional software.

In 2014, Caldwell was honored by the Detroit Historical Society’s Black Historic Sites Committee after becoming the Lions’ first African American head coach.

Caldwell also supported the Detroit-area Midnight Golf Program that teaches under-served young adults the game of golf and important life skills, including financial literacy, college preparation and community activism.

He also served as honorary chairman for the Charlie Sanders Foundation “Have A Heart Save A Life” Celebrity Golf Outing, which provides support to Student Healthy Heart Check programs provided by Beaumont Hospital and the Henry Ford Health System.