On Tuesday morning Chris Spielman, the Detroit Lions’ special assistant to both owner Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood, joined local radio station 97.1 The Ticket to explain everything going on in the halls of Allen Park now that the team’s front office and coaching staff were set up. While conversations varied from philosophy on how to build in free agency vs. the draft (“you can’t buy a locker room”) and how Detroit built their coaching staff, Spielman’s most interesting comments came about how involved Ford Hamp has been in the process.
Back during her introductory press conference, Ford Hamp promised that she would take her first year on the job to learn every aspect of the franchise, while also assuring to let the people in place do their jobs.
“I plan to be involved,” Ford Hamp said back in June. “I plan to, as I keep saying, learn more about the organization. I don’t plan to meddle, but I plan to be informed enough so that I can make good decisions at the top.”
According to Spielman, Ford Hamp is living up to the promise, getting involved—but not too involved—in free agency meetings this offseason.
“People ask me all the time, ‘How much is Sheila involved?’ 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 said.
“I had a great office when I got here, and all of a sudden, I’m on the corner next to the exit door, and I said, ‘What happened?’ Well, Sheila wants this office, because it’s right in the middle of everything, which is awesome, and it just goes to show her commitment to what she wants and how involved she is. Being in these meetings, giving her opinion, which is fun, and it’s cool to see the commitment that she has and that Rod (Wood) and (Senior VP of football/business administration Mike) Disner and everybody has.”
However, Spielman made clear—on two separate occasions—that while Ford Hamp will have the final decision, personnel moves will be up to general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell.
“Everybody understands that, as far as the personnel go, Brad and Dan—it’s on them,” Spielman said. “They’ve got to sign their names to that.”
When asked directly if it will be the “football guys” making the decisions and not ownership coming down and picking their own favorite players, Spielman was bluntly clear.
“Yeah, it has to be that way. It can’t be any other way.”
In other words, Ford Hamp is making sure she knows how the business is being operated, while giving her employees enough room to make their own decisions. It’s no easy task to find that delicate balance between not being an overbearing owner, yet still showing enough involvement to express your dedication to fixing this franchise rather than sitting back and collecting profits. However, Ford Hamp appears to be doing a good job of that thus far.