Matt Millen said during Sunday's Colts-Buccaneers broadcast on Fox that he made a "tactical error" when he left his job as an NFL analyst to become president of the Lions in 2001.
"I had this fleeting dream that I could run a team," Millen said to broadcast partner Dick Stockton.
Millen then turned to the camera and, with a huge grin, said, "Sorry, Detroit."
Millen added: "It didn't quite work out."
The tone of Millen's "apology" didn't play well with Lions fans on social media.
Millen, while president of the Lions, also was in charge of the team's personnel. He was fired early in the 2008 season. His record as president of the Lions was 31-84 (.270 winning percentage).