Ex-NFL exec Accorsi will assist Lions in GM search

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Ernie Accorsi

Allen Park — Lions president Rod Wood expressed a desire last Friday to quickly find a consultant to help the team identify its next general manager.

Less than a week later, the Lions announced that Ernie Accorsi — a former GM for the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts — will help assist in the GM search.

After the announcement Wednesday afternoon, Wood said the Lions saw Accorsi as the top choice to be their consultant soon after firing GM Martin Mayhew on Nov. 5. Wood said he spoke with Accorsi on the phone multiple times and the two met Tuesday to agree to the consultation.

The team could've selected any member of the NFL's Career Development Advisory Panel, but Wood said Accorsi fit the qualifications because he's a former GM, knows how to run a successful organization and has experience identifying GM candidates for other teams.

"He wants us to be successful," Wood said Wednesday of Accorsi. "All the teams that he's worked with are old NFL teams, and he's been around the league for a long time. He likes our franchise, he knew Mr. (William Clay) Ford (Sr.) and really wants to help us. And we're excited to have him."

Accorsi, 74, helped the Bears search for their next GM and head coach last offseason. Chicago eventually hired Ryan Pace, who was director of player personnel for the Saints, as GM and John Fox as coach.

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Accorsi was the GM for the Giants from 1998-2007, winning the Super Bowl in 2000. New York won the title again in 2007, but he'd already retired. He was GM for the Browns from 1985-92 and the Colts from 1982-83.

Accorsi also worked as a consultant for the Panthers in 2012 when they hired Dave Gettleman as GM. Carolina retained coach Ron Rivera despite the front-office changes, and Wood said any decision with regard to Lions coach Jim Caldwell will be made by the GM.

Before hiring Accorsi, Wood said the Lions spoke with people from the Bears and Panthers that recommended him.

"I think the main thing was the reputation that came with him from the prior searches, and I think he's going to do a great job for us just like he did for the other folks," Wood said. "We're very, very happy that he was willing to do it."

Wood also said he expects interim GM Sheldon White to remain a candidate in the search.

When announcing Wood's hiring last week, the Lions also said they would form an advisory board with owner Martha Firestone Ford, her four children and Wood. Accorsi will now assist that board in the search and sit in on interviews after targeting candidates.

"I think we need somebody who's got more expertise than we do to ask the right kind of questions," Wood said.

The Lions can't interview candidates employed by NFL teams until their season is over.