The bastards did it. They scoured the earth, America, brought in Top Men to discuss the Grave Matter, held meetings, lunches, more meetings, summits, councils, conversations, the whole nine yards. Monday they announced they would interview Our Man; on Friday they had him. The Future Is Now.
Bob Quinn is coming into the Lions front office, the first hire without ties to the Matt Millen era since the joyful Lego Man himself bobbed up and down through Radio City Music Hall, drafting Mike Williams. It has been a moment most anticipated and awaited and dreamed and desired by Lions fans, but unlike most incidents of love the post-coitus comes with frenetic and frenzied discussion about what comes next. Operating word, most.
(Did you know Wikipedia has a whole section that traces the supposed beginning and growth of the Fire Millen "movement," including an origin vector of the chant? Some of y'all are too wild with this.)
It didn't take long for the tittering to begin in earnest. Gil Brandt gave a rousing ovation for the hire, which became repeated across the signals. Some praised the hire if only because it wasn't the "same old" they've come to expect from this organization. Others held reservation because of Quinn's origins, or looked with concern at Trent Kirchner, the fourth man, still sitting in the lobby waiting for the interview that would never come. Because this is The Business, everyone had to cast a judgment right quick.
We tried to find people, someone, anyone who knew what they were going on about. There was little. Past that, the praise angle seemed to come from a human centipede of takes passed down from whatever front office insider there might be -- in which case the praise is almost always positive anyway -- and the negativity sprouts from the narrative surrounding those who leave the friendly confines of Foxborough.
This all circles back to what I've believed: no one really knows enough about these front office people to cast judgment either way. This is not a well-documented venture for general managers and front office personnel as one would find for baseball or basketball. Any names known by the public are those who already hold the position or have held the position in the past. They know the established and the washed.
Past the general manager? It's Nobodies. No faces. No names. No information. No nothing. And yet everyone's out here to pass the judgement on whether this is a Good Hire or a Bad Hire. Why? How can you tell? Good God! What, man, are you basing all this fresh hell on?
And yet everyone has done just that. The takes have been filed. We've based it all on nothing. Just belief. Hope. Bitterness. Whatever tickles your fancy. Don't you dare simply ask to wait and see, goddammit, pick a side already.
After all, we're talking about a man from the Patriots. He worked with That Man. Aren't all of the accomplishments of That Man owed solely to him and his Disciple? Is not the New England franchise alone in all of professional sports in that all victories in personnel can be traced solely to one man, That Man, and any who leave his grace have merely earned their glory in His twisted shadow and merely carcasses with not a lick of sense to them without His grace?
That's what the lizard on my shoulder tells me, anyway.
This is the godawful gut-twisting Narrative that Bob Quinn will fight the minute he touches down in DTW. He will have to walk past the smoldering remains of all those former Patriots coaching men. That particular pileup fascinates most fans and they can't keep it out of their mind. If they all failed, then why is this man any different? This take is already out there in the wild.
There are immediate events that, if one was of the mind, they could quickly judge whether Quinn will be The Genius Savior or just another gremlin once in service to That Man. All vectors are also unwinnable. Here's how Quinn will be judged before the 2016 season even starts.
- The decision surrounding whether to retain or release Jim Caldwell as head coach will be the first judgement. The common take is that he is unburdened in his need to keep Caldwell, but this isn't true. The world has seen the Lions players stump for Caldwell to remain in Detroit, and it seems to be genuine support. This matters, particularly when Quinn doesn't have the cachet to simply walk in like Alec Baldwin and deliver the Glengarry Glen Ross diatribe about steak knives. He may not even have a better alternative available. But if he does retain Caldwell, the fans will cast judgement anyway. Failure is unacceptable.
- He will be judged by the fate of Calvin Johnson. Somehow, fans have got it in their heads that a first-time general manager can sway the fate of a man who may want to walk away from the game of football or the Detroit Lions. Why should Calvin Johnson listen to him? How is this supposed to be a reflection on the job Quinn will do? Never mind the details; failure is unacceptable.
- Quinn cannot miss on [insert potential first round choice that will be adopted by fans and sports radio and various analysts as the best, the only sensible, the only logical player for the Lions' many needs] during this draft. If he selects someone that is not christened by the local media and fans, then he has failed. Failure to draft [name here] is unacceptable.
- Quinn cannot lose [insert fan-favorite of one or more of 17 players who will be unrestricted free agents this offseason]. Failure to re-sign [name here] is unacceptable.
Good God! There are enough landmines here that it's going to require a United Nations peacekeeping effort to disarm it all.
This is all to say that the job Quinn is inheriting is one that's going to require a hell of a lot more patience than what currently resides within the metro area. Fans and local media have convinced themselves this team can Win Now, the Super Bowl is the target, this team needs One More Piece. Find it. Plug it in. Go. Do not fail.
That kind of nonsense is what will ensure Bob Quinn's going to find no comfort until the results roll in. Only then will people think they know who this guy is.