A bit of advice for new Lions GM Bob Quinn

by | Jan 10, 2016 | Detroit Free Press, Sports | 0 comments

Dear Mr. Bob Quinn,

Welcome to the Detroit Lions. Since you have never worked here before, may we start with a friendly word:


No. Just kidding. We know you are planning a news conference soon. And we look forward to hearing how you will work hard, demand excellence, hold people accountable, and not rest until this franchise wins a championship, because we have never heard that before.

Not true. Actually, the last guy said it and the guy before that and the guy before that and the …

Well. You get the idea. So before you make your first public comments as the Lions’ new GM — and their first in forever actually hired from another NFL team — you might want to know some history about the job you’re taking.

Let’s start with a few names: Charles Rogers. Mike Williams. Joey Harrington. Andre Ware. Reggie Rogers. Those were all No. 1 draft picks selected by your predecessors — all in the top 10 overall — and not one lasted more than six years in the NFL. A couple went to jail.

A few more names: Rick Forzano, Tommy Hudspeth, Monte Clark, Darryl Rogers, Wayne Fontes, Bobby Ross, Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, Rod Marinelli, Jim Schwartz.

Those are all coaches hired by your predecessors. Not one achieved an overall winning record before getting fired. And not one EVER GOT ANOTHER NFL HEAD COACHING JOB!

In other words, Mr. Quinn, when it comes to your new position, to paraphrase Mr. Mornhinweg:
The bar is low.

You’re the boss now

Now, you are only 39 years old. You have lived your whole life in the New England area and have spent your entire NFL career with the Patriots. From your first season there, as a kid right out of grad school, you have witnessed exactly one losing season, your first year. After that, you experienced six Super Bowls, nine AFC championship games and 13 postseasons (counting this one), missing the playoffs only twice (and both times despite a winning record).

In other words, around here, you are an alien.

(Honestly. What’s that like? Nearly every year the playoffs? Six times to a Super Bowl? Does it get old? Do you yawn at Madonna or Bruno Mars and say, “Yeah, yeah, another halftime show…”?)

Anyhow, we are thrilled — thrilled! — to have that kind of winning experience coming to Detroit. And it would be even better if you’d been the person in charge of it.

But you weren’t. You worked for other people. This will be your first crack at being the actual general manager, sitting behind the desk at which the buck stops.

In that way, you resemble ALL your Detroit predecessors, from Russ Thomas to Chuck Schmidt to Matt Millen to Martin Mayhew.
Trust me. That is not a club you want to join.

Find the missing ingredient

So we don’t know if you’ve got the magic touch. The Lions have tried to slice a piece of other teams’ winning cheese before. Ross had been to a Super Bowl. Caldwell, too. But they got to Detroit and something was missing.
Wait. I know.


Which is where you must make your mark. The Lions’ history of wrong players being coached by wrong people is legendary. Few organizations have taken as many college stars and turned them into busts.

The Patriots have a great history of the opposite: finding late picks or free agents and molding them into stars. Of course, that could be Bill Belichick’s molding. Plenty of former Patriots have crapped out with other teams. To be frank, some fans are worried you’re carrying more of Belichick’s glow than your own.

But at least you’ve been around winning teams, winning players and big-name stars cut to save money replaced by lesser names who were nearly as good.

Detroit needs that. It needs to feel smarter than other teams, not dumber. It needs to feel admired, not smirked at. Mostly it needs to feel new, and you are that if nothing else. New to the franchise. New to the job. New to the town.

So if I may, could I suggest just one move — one acquisition that could make the transition much easier. You are rumored to be deciding on Caldwell’s fate as coach. And there is some buzz that you will replace him. If you do …Hire Belichick.

I’m just saying.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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