Last week, Chris Spielman raised some eyebrows when he mentioned the role that Detroit Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp had played thus far in their offseason meetings.
“Well, Sheila has been involved by being in all these personnel meetings. She sat in two days of offensive free agency meetings and defensive free agency meetings,” Spielman told local radio station 97.1 The Ticket.
Some were concerned that Hamp could be meddling, seeing as the Lions already have a general manager (Brad Holmes), an assistant general manager (Ray Agnew), senior VP of football and business administration (Mike Disner), a senior personnel executive (John Dorsey) and a head coach (Dan Campbell) in on personnel decisions. It could understandably look like too many cooks in the kitchen.
Others, however, actually saw this as a refreshing change of pace. Finally, the Lions had an owner who expressed their interest in actually changing the direction of the franchise with a hands-on approach—a far different strategy than her mother and father.
On Tuesday, head coach Dan Campbell came to Hamp’s defense. He appeared eager to make clear Hamp’s presence in meetings was welcome and she was not overstepping.
“We’ve asked her input because I mean, she’s the owner. I want her input,” Campbell said. “I’d love to know what she says, but every time it’s like, ‘Listen, I’m not making this decision. I want you guys, what you feel is best. That’s why I hired you guys, for what is best for the Lions organization.’ So, she’s been nothing but outstanding.”
Not only does being in on the meetings give Hamp the knowledge of how decisions are made, but it also sends a very important message to everyone in that building: she cares.
“I want all our coaches, I want our personnel department, I want our players to know, man, she cares,” Campbell said. “She wants to be around. She wants to be part of this because when you have an owner that wants to be involved in that, but yet, she’s just like Sheila is where, ‘Listen, you guys do what you need to do. I’m here. I’m your resource,’ but yet she’s hearing all the information. She’s finding out all the things about these players that we all know. I mean, you can’t ask for anything better. So, she’s been outstanding, that’s the truth and I wanted to make sure I got that across.”
Still, the too-many-cooks crowd may be concerned about the group mentality approach the Lions have been taking regarding decision making. Spielman, Holmes, and Campbell have all made mention of how Detroit is trying to create a culture in which everyone is rowing in the same direction, and they’ll come to decisions together. But that is far easier said than done. Disagreements will happen, and when they do, someone will have to have the final say.
So then what? Who has the final say in roster decisions?
“Brad and I do,” Campbell said. “Here’s what I would say, I kind of brought this up, this is weeks ago. But here’s what I would say about a true alpha. A true alpha knows when it’s time to concede for the betterment of the team.”
And that goes back to the whole “no ego” philosophy the Lions are trying to adopt. They believe the staff they’ve assembled are capable of working together in a way that can disagree, but will eventually land on the right decision with no ill will towards each other. Again, easier said than done, but Campbell doesn’t seem worried.
“Brad and I have the final say on these things and we’ll be just fine. We’ll be just fine. We’ll get this thing worked out one way or another.”