NFL Alumni Association Detroit chapter gives recommendation for next Lions GM

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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The search for a new Detroit Lions general manager is not even 24 hours old and owner Sheila Ford Hamp already is receiving recommendations for the job.

Tim Walton, vice president of the NFL Alumni Association’s Detroit chapter, drafted a letter to Hamp on behalf of the organization Sunday endorsing former Lions executive Larry Lee as a replacement for Bob Quinn.

Hamp fired Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia on Saturday, 43 games into their tenure together in Detroit.

Lee played eight NFL seasons as a backup offensive lineman and parlayed that into a nine-year front office career with the Lions.

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He served in a variety of roles with the team, from player development assistant to vice president of football administration, where he helped negotiate contracts and scout talent.

Lee has been out of the NFL formally since 2001, though he has served as a consultant for several teams, and currently works with Fritz Pollard Alliance, which champions diversity in hiring across the league.

Walton said he penned the five-paragraph letter touting Lee’s football acumen, leadership and familiarity with the organization and community, after Lee spoke to a group of about two dozen former Lions players about his vision for himself and the team in October.

“I think he’s just that guy, and he feels it, that he’s the one that’s going to be able to bridge and bring this team back to where it needs to be for the fans,” Walton said. “That was the consensus (of everyone on the Zoom).”

The Lions are one of three NFL teams currently with openings at both the head coach and GM positions.

The Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons also are conducting parallel coach and GM searches, and league observers expect as many as eight coach and GM jobs to be filled this hiring cycle.

The Lions will face fierce competition for top candidates at both spots, and may be less appealing than some of their rivals. The Texans, for instance, feature a star 25-year-old quarterback in Deshaun Watson, and teams like the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars, who could have openings, likely will have two of the top picks in the NFL draft.

Hamp said Saturday that how the Lions structure their organization, with a traditional GM in power or the head coach, “will probably have to do with the candidates we’re looking at and how that would play out.

She also said the team “probably” will use a search firm to help with its hires, and will be “talking to a lot of people and using a lot of resources simultaneously.”

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The Fritz Pollard Alliance, of which Lee is a part of, is expected to be in touch next week.

The group compiles and distributes a list of top minority coaching and executive candidates to teams based on fit and situation.

According to the NFL’s new enhanced Rooney Rule, the Lions must interview at least two candidates of diversity from outside the organization for the head coaching job, and at least one for the GM position.

“We will follow the Rooney Rule not only in its spirit, but beyond that as we search for our candidates,” Lions president Rod Wood said.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 


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Sheila Ford Hamp did not on Nov. 28, 2020, rule out that Matt Patricia’s replacement could also serve as Detroit Lions’ general manager.

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