Alan Park – Former Lions best Chris Spielman has been approached by several teams over the years. But no offer was enough to get him out of the broadcast. Despite his old team call in recent weeks, he is still not sure if he is ready to leave a lucrative career at the booth.
He then had another meeting with owner Sheila Ford Ham, he knew.
He knew it was time to finally get home.
“He wants the Lions to represent the city of Detroit – I can not say how excited and bad he is – to win a lot of games is something that (everyone) can be proud of,” Spielman said Tuesday afternoon. “She was the one who caught me first when I decided whether or not to do this. She’s amazing. She’s a great leader. She’s a leader to me. ‘Let’s go!’ It felt like I was talking to a head coach before a game and he gave me a locker room speech and I was ready to run through the hotel door in Cincinnati. ”
Times, they are a ‘sangin’ in Detroit.
Hamp took over as head owner in June, having not done so even for a full season before he was fired as general manager and head coach. He has now won several league defeats, and has impressed Spielman with his new look in the front office. He will serve as a special assistant to longtime Lions linebacker Hamp and team leader Rod Wood, and his first business lineup is instructing top Detroit executives in their search for the new general manager and head coach of Detroit.
What exactly is Spielman bringing to Detroit?
In the beginning, some football expertise that was badly needed at the higher levels of the system. He played in 10 seasons in the league, the first eight of which were spent in Detroit. He still holds the team record and was one of the best Lions teams of the Super Bowl era, playing in the last team to win the playoffs (1991) and the division title (1993).
That title drought, now officially 27 years old and number one, is the longest in the league.
The Lions have tried all sorts of general managers and coaches for years, all of which have failed. Their most recent resume sought to import the patriotic way by appointing Bob Quinn as general manager and Matt Patricia as head coach. But the Quintricia era failed dramatically, with Hamp going 13-29-1 to pull the plug after just 43 games last month.
Talent level was an issue, especially when it came to security, but culture never came together. In fact, it became completely toxic after Patricia’s work in 2018. He was a tough, brave coach who came into the locker room and told the players they didn’t know how to play football. He beat players in meetings. He isolated the players for embarrassment. Things were bad. Although Patricia’s sexuality has improved over the past two years, like her relationship with the locker room, her teams have not. He was fired after another explosion in Thanksgiving, and Quinn was also kicked out.
As the Lions try to reunite the pieces together after a failed Patriotic Way experiment, they focus on recreating their own culture. They have appointed a boy who was at the heart of some of the best teams in Detroit in the modern era as one of the organization’s most respected leaders.
“Chris Spielman has been the Detroit Lions’ biggest ambassador ever since he first wore a uniform in 1988,” Hamp said in a written statement. “He has a great interest in people and the game of football, and we are delighted to have him on board to help lead our team. This position is a full-time opportunity for Chris to work in various fields on the football and business sides of our organization.”
Spielman has bonfires as a player and leader in Detroit. He has traveled around the league as a broadcaster for the past five years, and his highly respected reputation has given him access to how many teams are trying to do it. Everywhere he went he picked up a notebook, trying to figure out what was working and what was not. His home office is littered with notes written from all over the football world.
Now he wants to give that insight to Detroit’s latest restructuring.
“(Notebooks) are all over the room here, and magazines and notebooks. I mean, it’s like you’re walking here and I’m spreading it, it’s like ‘A Beautiful Mind Part II’ because there’s a lot of knowledge to be gained there, ”Spielman said. “I’m blessed with intelligence, I can always learn, I can always grow, I have an intelligence to know I can always grow. There are a lot of smart guys out there. If they post information there, whether I accept it or disagree, I write it because I know about it. I like to think, ‘Did it work? How does it work? How does it work with this guy? How does it work with that person?’
“Some of the people I’ve talked to over the years, very recent, are very smart with a lot of success. That doesn’t mean I accept everything they say, but they do give me thoughts and ideas to think about. For me, you only grow when you’re out of your comfort zone, and you challenge that way. You have the intelligence and humility to know that you do not have all the answers. Someone does. You find that person and find out what the answers are. ”
The biggest thing he has learned about successful companies is that they all have clear communication from above. He wants to create that kind of culture in Detroit’s new management, and it will be a focal point when he inspires Hamp and Wood in their search for a head coach and general manager.
“Every person I talk to (communication) on the first three things in a big organization,” Spielman said. “There has to be communication. Everyone needs to understand the direction we are going. Everyone needs to know what our culture is, and you can not deviate from that culture. Everyone needs to know, ‘Well, what kind of character do we want in the building?’ “
During his initial meeting with reporters, Spielman said nothing about candidates for open jobs, and revealed very little about the credentials he was looking for. But it was plenty of clear culture and top-down communication would be the quest of the heart. So, even creating something unique in Detroit.
The “one pride” thing, for me, goes beyond the building, “Spielman said.” Obviously in the building (too), but the ‘One Pride’ thing embraces Detroit. Detroit city. Detroit fans. I think I still identify with that part. Feeling we have ‘Run out of gas’ emotionally, I have a vision to fit in with what Rod and Sheila imagined, and that’s the only way it can work, because we fully harmonize the direction of the building’s culture, and something that everyone should be proud of as a Lions fan.
“The timing is right. I have been approached over the years for different opportunities within football, and life sometimes takes you in different directions, and the choices we all make as husbands, fathers, wives and mothers and those kind of good things. (But) I think this is the right time to get involved. I am very excited. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the opportunity. Lions are a part of my identity. They have always been, they will always be. When I say ‘pride’, to some it may seem like allot, but it’s not. I always take it as an action word. That is my goal moving forward. ”