This behind-the-scenes Detroit Lions executive will help with GM search

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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While the Detroit Lions are planning to use every available resource from the NFL and Fritz Pollard Alliance in their ongoing search for a new general manager, owner Sheila Ford Hamp and president Rod Wood ultimately will make the call on who they hire.

And as they go about sorting through a comprehensive list of candidates, one behind-the-scenes executive expected to play a major role in the search — at least from an information gathering standpoint — is vice president of football administration Mike Disner.

Disner, a West Bloomfield native, joined the Lions in 2019 and has handled salary cap management and contract negotiations the past two seasons.

He spent six years in the Arizona Cardinals front office before coming to Detroit, and before that worked for the NFL’s management council.

Disner’s lengthy history at multiple stops across the league — he started as an intern with the New England Patriots and eventually joined the team’s scouting department, where he worked with the recently fired Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia — is a benefit to Lions leadership that is otherwise short on NFL experience.

Wood joined the Lions as president in 2015 after a career in investment banking, and Hamp took controlling interest in the team for her mother, Martha Firestone Ford, in June.

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Hamp said in a video conference to announce the firing of Quinn and Patricia last month that she would “be talking to a lot of people and using a lot of resources simultaneously” during the team’s coach and GM searches.

“We’re not going to just rely on one avenue,” she said. “There’s going to be several things we’re doing.”

Hamp also said the Lions “probably” would use a search firm to help identify and interview candidates, but the organization has not formally contracted a firm.

Instead, the team has been in regular communication with the NFL about candidates and the search process.

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Four other teams currently have openings for a general manager — the Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and Washington — and as many as four more teams could be looking for a new GM by the end of the season.

The Texans are using both a search firm, Korn Ferry, and a formal advisory committee that consists of Hall-of-Fame ex-coaches Tony Dungy and Jimmie Johnson, to aid in their search. Washington never hired a GM last season, when Ron Rivera took over as coach. And it’s unclear if either the Jaguars or Falcons are formally using a search firm.

With no clear front-runner for the GM spot, the Lions are expected to interview a wide range of candidates in the coming week.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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