Chris Spielman, the former Detroit All-Pro Lions defender, left the broadcast booth Tuesday to join the franchise as a special assistant to owner Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood. This gives the team a familiar face at the head of the organisation.
Spielman, who has worked as a colour analyst at FOX, will report to Wood and serve as an advisor to both him and Hamp, working with both the commercial and football side of the franchise.
He will attend all interviews for the vacant positions of general manager and head coach of the team, although Mr. Wood has stated that those who are hired will ultimately not report to Mr. Spielman.
That’s why it was so important to have it in advance, because I didn’t want to have it after we hired a general manager or a coach and they wondered what his role is, the wood said. It will be very clear to them when we interview candidates and it is part of their recruitment process, so it will be invested in their success.
And it will be made available to them as a resource, however they use it.
Both Spielman and Wood said on Tuesday that they believe there should be coherence within Lions – from host to owner – with the same message everywhere. This is a point that Spielman often raised in his half-hour media speech.
Both Spielman and Wood said they had a similar vision of the organization from the management of Hamp, and that they were trying to create a culture that included the city of Detroit and Lions supporters, as well as the values they felt were important to the organization.
And it starts, according to Spielman, with a clear connection.
Everyone needs to understand which direction we’re going in. Everyone needs to know what our culture is, and we can’t hide from it, Spielman said. Everybody should know about this: Now, what kind of character do we want in the building, everyone understands that the head coach and the general manager should be synchronized. Now they can fight and argue, which is great, but I’m telling you that if I’m in charge, there will be unity.
It won’t be us against them. We can’t build a winning culture against them in our country.
Spielman, 55, admitted Tuesday that he is not qualified to be the NFL’s chief executive officer – and that it would not be fair for him to hold that position. But he has been involved in football for three decades and every year he travels to the teams in his role as a broadcaster. He wrote in his diary and talks about what he thinks about good franchises.
He also knows what it takes to build a successful organization, which could eventually help in the hiring process, as his brother Rick is the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings.
I know exactly what Sheila and Rod want, Mr. Spielman said. And I hope I can help them and get us where we need to be.
Spielman played eight years for Detroit and was part of the team that won the last division title in 1993 and his only play-off victory in the Super Bowl (1991 season). He was a professional bowler four times and was selected for the first All-Pro team in 1991. He played a total of 10 seasons in the NFL, starting 148 games.
After his retirement he became a broadcaster for FOX and ESPN and has served as a color analyst for Lion games for the past seven seasons.
He brings a great passion for people and for football, and we are happy to have him on board to lead our team, Hamp said in a statement. This is a full-time position for Chris, allowing him to work in different departments, both in football and in business within our organization.
De Lions approached Spielman after the resignation of managing director Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia two days after Thanksgiving. Wood said he’d been thinking about bringing Spielman into the organization for a while, but until then, it wasn’t the right time.
In many conversations, including Hamp’s final presentation, Spielman decided it was time to leave the booth to help an organization he considers part of my identity.
De Leeuwen also announced that the return of former head of state Barry Sanders, Mark Hollis, and Rod Graves, Alliance Executive Director Fritz Pollard, will advise the team in its search for a new head coach and coaching staff.
Mr Wood stated that he had already spoken to Mr Graves about potential minority candidates and that they intended to speak to him on a regular basis. Hollis’ experience as a coach in the state of Michigan was attractive and Sanders is someone who understands the culture and identity of the team.
Any time I can invite Barry, it’s all right, Wood said. And I’m glad he agrees. So we’ll use them in different ways, but all three of them can bring something to the table.
In terms of research, Wood said they would consider previous experience as head coach or general manager, but they do not consider it a requirement.
Experience is a factor, Wood said. But that’s not the deciding factor.
Detroit held three interviews with its internal candidates for the position of General Manager: Kyle O’Brien, Vice President of Player Personnel, Lance Newmark, Director of Player Personnel, and Rob Lohman, Director of Pro-Scouting. Together with the Vice President of the Football Administration Mike Disner, they will form the team that will serve as General Manager until a new General Manager is hired.