It has almost been a calendar year since the Detroit Lions hired Bob Quinn as their new general manager. Most Lions fans are quite happy with the job Quinn did in his first year as an NFL GM, but according to a recent report, it almost never happened.
Eliot Wolf, the Green Bay Packers’ current director of football operations was long to be rumored the Lions’ first choice for the vacancy last year. However, that interview never even happened because the Packers reportedly denied the Lions’ offer. That didn’t really come as much of a surprise to us, as this is what we wrote about Wolf when detailing him as a GM candidate:
Additionally, it may be hard for the Lions to get their hands on Eliot. The Packers are notoriously stingy in allowing teams to interview their coaches and management. The common belief is that because the Lions would be offering him a promotion, the Packers would have no choice but to allow an interview, but the rules are less clear than that. There are plenty of documented cases in which directors of player personnel were denied interviews for general manager positions, and Pro Football Talk calls the permission rules confusing and "murky."
The biggest hurdle in getting Wolf to join the Lions is his availability, and I have to believe the Packers' unwillingness to let go of current front office employees makes Wolf a long-shot for the Lions' new general manager.
However, it came as a pretty big surprise this year when the Packers granted permission for Wolf to interview for the 49ers vacancy this year. It’s unclear if league rules prevented the Packers from denying him this time, but the more interesting story here is that according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wolf was upset he never got to interview for the Lions job:
Friends of Wolf said he was disappointed not having the chance to speak with the Lions about a job for which sources said he was the frontrunner.
Moreover, those same people said Ron Wolf, the Packers’ retired GM and a mentor to Thompson, wasn’t pleased at all.
It still makes a lot of sense from the Packers point of view to make sure one of their valued front office employees didn’t make the jump to a division rival, but it’s still a little petty to hold back one of their own employees from a chance at a promotion. The fact that they allowed the 49ers to interview Wolf shows that he may not be the planned successor to Ted Thompson.
Regardless, it’s interesting to think about what would be different under an Eliot Wolf-run Lions team, but I think most Lions fans are happy with what they ended up with in Bob Quinn.