The Lions have never hired a GM with GM experience. I have a theory why

The Detroit Lions continued a trend of not hiring someone with General Manager experience when they selected former Los Angeles Rams Director of College Scouting Brad Holmes.

I have a theory. The Ford family is not interested in hiring someone who can come in Day One pounding the desk and telling them that they are a major problem in why this franchise remains an abject failure.

They don’t want someone strong enough on Day One to come in pounding the desk and demand major changes throughout the organization. They are more interested in hiring nice guys than in your face guys.

Over the years the franchise has rejected overtures from Bill Parcels and Denny Green. And they chose Holmes over Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert who never got a chance to say no to the Lions. They rejected him.

Once again I have a theory. Colbert is one of those guys who can come in from Day One, pound the desk and tell the Ford’s they are a major part of the problem. He has experience. He has pedigree.

He’d want to make too many uncomfortable changes. Now some reporter will ask the Lions if they rejected Colbert. They will say no. Technically, they will be right. The two never spoke. Colbert will probably say he never talked to the Lions. Technically, he is telling the truth. But there were back alley talks and third party involvement where nobody had to get their hands dirty.

The News and Free Press keep reporting that the Lions have hired four consecutive GM’s with no previous experience as a general manager. That is incorrect. The Lions under the Fords have never hired a GM with previous general manager experience. That magic number now stands at six.

Here is the list.

Russ Thomas (1967-1989): He was a former Lions player and assistant coach. More importantly he was a drinking buddy of former owner William Clay Ford. Thomas was willing to take the heat for the Ford family and be the bad guy during tense contract negotiations where he tried to low ball players.

Chuck Schmidt (1989-2000): Schmidt moved from financial guy with the organization to the football side. He also had no previous GM experience. He got the job over Player Personnel Director Jerry Vainisi, who helped lead the Chicago Bears to the 1985 Super Bowl as their GM. Vainisi seemed like the logical choice to take over. His problem was he often fought with Thomas and told the Ford’s off.

See ya buddy.

Matt Millen (2000-2008): The Lions didn’t talk about winning championships when they hired Millen out of the television booth. They said he was a good guy. The team finished 31-84 under his worst in the world leadership. Millen even got an extension and a raise. Earning $5 million a year, he was the highest paid GM in the NFL.

We also saw the Millen Man March where fans stormed downtown to protest his incompetent leadership.

Martin Mayhew: (2008-2015): I knew he’d be a bust when Millen called out to me after a press conference at Ford Field and screamed “Martin Mayhew is a stud.” Mayhew learned by serving as assistant GM under Millen. He was tasked at scouting college games while Millen went to his farm in Pennsylvania to fix his barn. Mayhew replaced Millen and started with a bang when he traded receiver Roy Williams to the Dallas Cowboys for a first, third and sixth round draft pick. It was all downhill from there. He was a quiet guy who refused to ruffle feathers.

Bob Quinn (2015-2020): He bounced around the New England Patriots organization for 16 seasons, but never ascended to GM there. He served as national scout and assistant player personnel director. Quinn finished 31-43-1 as the Lions GM mostly because his New England buddy Matt Patricia lost the dressing room as coach and could never recover.

Brad Holmes (present): He is smart, innovative and could be the right guy. However, he follows in the footsteps of every Lions executive by having no GM experience.

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Published by terryfoster8

I am a 58 year old retired sports journalist, husband and father of two living outside of Detroit in search of his next big adventure in life.

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