SI's Breer: GM candidates are leery of Spielman's role in front office

From today’s Monday Morning Quarterback column:

I think Lions owner Sheila Ford was very well-intentioned with the hire of Chris Spielman, and that it was a good step toward unifying an organization that’s long lacked an overarching culture—with the business side located downtown and the football side in the suburbs. But I also can tell you that enough candidates are leery of the setup that I do believe the Lions are going to have to be very clear in explaining Spielman’s role within the organization, and how it’ll intertwine with the other football folks.

They need to nip this, fast. And hopefully are doing so in interviews.

Of course the Lions are shopping for a GM at a time when there’s almost an unprecedented number of other teams doing so as well. They can’t let things like this hang out there without clarity. It’s a hyper-competitive market.


I view Spielman’s presence as a good thing.

You’re absolutely correct in the importance of letting GM candidates know he won’t be meddling. Liaison between team and management. Our management is AWFUL, and they need someone other than a tennis player to handle that role.


I don’t think an experienced GM like Dimitroff, Ireland or Smith will feel threatened or be worrried about an advisor.


This was my greatest worry with Spielman’s hire.

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I would be more worried about Wood if I were a GM candidate


Yeah, I think there were a few of us that expressed concern over having an ex-player reporting directly to the owner and to the team president in an ambiguous role.


The thing of it is, it doesn’t even need to be a formal role thing.

Just being a GM, and knowing Spielman’s in the office with Sheila’s ear. The team is on a losing streak, she’s making conversation. “What’s your take, Chris?”

I can totally see how a GM candidate would be concerned about that being undermining.


More depression & drama on this forum. I’m outta here for a while.


The team just needs to eliminate the ambiguity. If he’s direct to the President and to the Ford’s, then simply state that he’s who the GM will report to, along with Wood. Two people in over their heads for their specific roles, but with unique qualities that require the Ford family puts them there. It is what it is, let’s own it and proceed. The truth isn’t very flattering but it’s substantially better than wondering who fits where.

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Having Spielman looking over the GM’s shoulder will be a good thing. We have had too many bad decision occur with full control GM’s not getting vetted out. The folks that we are looking at are currently unemployed so I am not overly concerned with finding someone interested in the job. There are only 32 GM jobs available.

Well, just spit-balling here, but if you’re worried about what Spielman might say to the ownership/top management about what you’re doing then maybe you ain’t the right person for the job. If I’m going to be the new GM or HC, what would be so bad about asking Spielman what his take is on any prospective football decision? Not that he would have a veto, but maybe it’s good to have a guy who will give you an honest opinion without worrying about his job. Especially if you are Wood and need somebody to give you the flip-side of any decision. Are we mortgaging the future if we do this? What reasons are there for NOT doing this? What are the drawbacks? Ron Wood is apparently not football-smart enough to know that stuff. So, he and Sheila hired somebody who is.


Have you… been following some other team for the last 60 years?


I read about “people being worried” about no football people making this decision and now I read people being “worried about Spielman’s role.”

This is all a bunch of horseshit!

Every GM is playing with house $. Each organization is going top have some kind of structure in place that GMs are going to have to report to. And each team is owner differently and each team has a different decision making process in place.

Spielman is an advisor to an owner. Period. Yes, one can see someone who has the ear of the owner as an ally OR an enemy. Spielman is a person that can take your job down the road. Chris can be seen as a threat. OR one can see Chris an an important ally. Perspective. All teams are different and no GM gets to make decisions alone. Chris reports to the owner and that gives Chris power. But it takes a person seeing a threat for that to actually BE a threat as Chris can also be a blocker for you. A guy who makes tough decisions easier.

It is easy for the Lions to be clear to an interviewee…“we let GMs run the team. Look at our track record. Millen stayed for years. Mayhew stayed for years. Bob Quinn got five years and two coaching hires. Chris is here to help ensure better synergy between football and business and to help turn us into a winning organization. Chris is here to help us hire well. Amd Chris is here to help Sheila. Chris isn’t here to run this football program though. He isn’t here to second guess a GM. He is here to help the GM understand decisions and to make a better hire than what the Lions have done the past 50 years.”


Hopefully? My concern was not just that good candidates would worry about being second guessed and undermined by an unaccountable figure with a direct line to the owner, which is concerning enough. But that it would be happening from a guy that ownership wants to take over the job—that you’re just being hired to keep the seat warm while Spielman learns the ropes.

The fact that we now have published quotes from the front office conceding that Wood asked Spielman if he was interested in the job won’t do anything to quiet those concerns.


So what are we supposed to talk about? Bubblegum, Rainbows & Unicorns

Every chance the Fords have to screw up this franchise, they do it. Every single time.

Fans need to revolt until they sell the team or this is never going to change.

If potential GM’s are worried about Chris Spielman, I really don’t want them here and that goes for my two favorites, Dimitroff and Rick Smith.

GM’s is a younger man’s job, most are out of the business when they hit their early to mid 60’s. Spielman is already 55.


I would think that Spielman being offered the job and turning it down would tell perspective candidates quite a bit.


Aren’t you making some assumptions here with no real basis in fact? Asking Spielman if he’s interested in the GM job isn’t the same as offering him the job now or in the future. It does not mean the Lions ownership wants Spielman to take the job in the future, that is pure speculation. Is he an unaccountable figure with a direct line to the owner? We don’t know that, do we? Will he be in the chain of command so to speak, between the GM and Wood or Hamp? My impression of that is NO, he isn’t. I would be surprised if that is the case.

Do other team presidents have someone outside the chain of command that they can turn to for football analysis? Maybe they do but it may not be widely known. Former coaches, players, GMs that they know? If so, the only difference is that the Lions made it public knowledge, perhaps trying to buttress support for the team and showing they are trying to do it right.

Consider this: if Spielman says yeah, I’m interested in the job then obviously he can’t be involved in the decision-making process even if only in an advisory role if he’s also one of the candidates, now or in the future. Cuz he’s got a personal stake in the decision. I don’t think that question has to mean that Spielman is ever going to be the Lions GM at some point.

Hoping, with his input, we will somehow end up being tougher.