Detroit Lions beat writer Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has been all over the team’s general manager search, and he unearthed some interesting things on Monday after getting his hands on an internal memo from owner Sheila Ford Hamp.
“We are already deeply into researching top candidates for head coach and GM, and, as the recent internal memo stated, have already interviewed several in-house candidates for the GM job,” Ford Hamp’s memo read, according to the Detroit Free Press. “This process will play out over the next six weeks or so, with the result being a well vetted and proven head coach/GM team that can finally take the Lions where we all so earnestly wish to go — to the top!”
Birkett added his own reporting about the general manager search, noting the job “has garnered widespread interest” from both internal and external candidates.
This is a stark difference from the general manager search conducted by Martha Firestone Ford and team president Rod Wood five years ago. In that search, they were aided by NFL consultant Ernie Accorsi—who Dave notes is not involved in Detroit’s search this time around—and only interviewed three candidates for the job: Bob Quinn, Kevin Abrams and Lions interim GM at the time Sheldon White. There were also reportedly some candidates that turned down interviews at the time.
It’s notable that Ford Hamp wants a “proven head coach/GM team,” and it also explains the Lions’ reported interest in both former Texans general manager Rick Smith and former Giants general manager Jerry Reese. In addition to those two, the Lions have already conducted interviews with three internal candidates for the job.
But Dave notes that just because Ford Hamp wants a proven commodity running the team, that does not necessary discount first-time head coaches or general managers.
“While previous experience is not a prerequisite for either job, Hamp’s memo makes clear the Lions’ preference to a hire seasoned hand for at least one of the positions,” Birkett writes.
For the next three weeks, the Lions’ search for both general manager and head coach candidates will have to be focused on internal candidates or candidates who are not currently employed by an NFL team. Once the regular season ends, the Lions may do in-person interviews for candidates of teams eliminated from the playoffs or they can conduct virtual interviews of candidates still in the postseason.