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John Niyo: Buyer beware, as Lions sell another search for success

By John Niyo, The Detroit News on

Published in Football

There will be a lot of talk about package deals in the weeks ahead as the Lions begin another search for a new general manager and head coach following their latest purge in Detroit.

Now that the franchise has cut loose Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia with two-plus years remaining on their contracts and more than a month left in another disastrous season in Detroit, we'll hear speculation about GM candidates with preferred coaching pairings, and vice versa. Mike Borgonzi and Eric Bieniemy from the Kansas City Chiefs, perhaps. Ed Dodds (Indianapolis) and Robert Saleh (San Francisco) are often linked. Louis Riddick, an ESPN analyst with a NFL personnel background, has pitched a partnership with Josh McDaniels (New England) in recent years. And so on.

It's the way the NFL often operates at the top of the organizational food chain. A buddy system that has its benefits, to be sure. But also its flaws, something the Lions learned the hard way by trying to replicate the Patriot Way here the last few years.

But what about the package deal that's still in place in Detroit? The one that held an awkward and rather uninspiring Zoom call Saturday afternoon to formally deliver the news that Lions fans had been clamoring for all this time, with Sheila Ford Hamp, who officially took control as the Lions' principal owner back in June, fielding questions from the media and Rod Wood, the team president, nodding his approval.

That's the package that still needs to be unwrapped and inspected here, before anyone can have any confidence that the next hires will deliver to Detroit as promised.

Hamp was frank, at least, in admitting Saturday that "you're going to have a lot more questions than I have answers to," before proceeding to prove her point. And to be fair, those who know her insist the second-eldest of Martha Firestone Ford's children will be true to her word about keeping an open mind and conducting a thorough and exhaustive search as the Lions try, try again to chart a new path forward.

 

Hamp's also keenly aware of the more than half-century of failed leadership she's trying to correct, having moved from steerage to the stern over the last several years.

"We can't hide our past, that's for sure," the 69-year-old Hamp said Saturday. "But I think I'm very dedicated to turning this ship around and really making a difference, and hopefully we won't have to look back very much. We'll just look forward."

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Fair enough, but a word of caution to long-suffering Lions fans. Look twice before you make that leap of faith again. And when you do, tell me what you see that makes you sure this time really will be different.

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