Quinn's hiring as Lions GM had 'unanimous' support

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Ernie Accorsi, who helped the Lions in their general manager search said the Ford family, including owner Martha Firestone Ford (right), all supported the hiring of Bob Quinn.

Between being a consultant helping teams search for general managers and his time on the NFL’s career development advisory board, Ernie Accorsi has ample knowledge of the top personnel men around the league.

But, even Accorsi hadn’t met Bob Quinn until last week.

Accorsi, the former GM whom the Lions hired as a consultant in November, knew of Quinn, who had been the director of pro scouting for the New England Patriots since 2012, and he started doing more research on one of New England’s top personnel bosses a year ago. Over the past year, Accorsi said he and Quinn had several long phone conversations, and when the Lions could start interviewing candidates to replace GM Martin Mayhew, Accorsi had Quinn near the top of the list.

Then, last Tuesday, Accorsi interviewed Quinn in Providence, R.I. Quinn flew to Detroit for a second interview on Thursday, and after Accorsi made his recommendation, the Ford family and president Rod Wood supported him and made the hire official Friday night.

“It was unanimous on him,” Accorsi said of how the Fords reacted to Quinn. “Everybody might’ve had their own reasons. They all did work on him. They all asked questions about him. They all met him, and they all knew where he came from.”

Quinn, 39, joins the Lions after 16 years working for the best franchise in the NFL over the past two decades. Since he started as a player personnel assistant in 2000, the Patriots have played in six Super Bowls and won four.

Accorsi has unique ties to the Patriots organization. In 1991, he was the GM for the Cleveland Browns and hired Bill Belichick as head coach, and whether it was for this search or others, Accorsi said Belichick has always been authentic with him.

And talking to Belichick about Quinn only increased Accorsi’s interest in the young pro personnel director.

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“Belichick is making the decisions; I’m aware of that,” Accorsi said. “But let me tell you something, he would not be in that job if Belichick didn’t trust him and didn’t respect him.”

And when Accorsi finally met Quinn face to face, he started to understand just how much of a role he played in New England’s success.

“I pride myself on being able to size people up pretty quick,” Accorsi said. “But the other thing that I did say after the first interview, which was a very, very lengthy one, was, ‘Now you can see why they don’t just win, they dominate.’

“With some of the way they operate and the way he was going to operate, it’s very impressive. I’ve been retired eight years, but I wish I would’ve done some of those things. … They leave nothing to chance. It’s just absolute attention to detail beyond belief.”

Although Accorsi didn’t share any specific players Quinn recommended to Belichick, who acts as Patriots GM, and top lieutenant Nick Caserio, the director of player personnel, Accorsi noted that the Patriots had eight players on their Super Bowl roster that weren’t on the team to start the season.

As the director of pro personnel, Quinn was responsible for finding players to add to the roster throughout the season.

Although Quinn and Belichick took different paths to premier NFL jobs — with Quinn trying coaching at UConn for just two years before going into scouting — Accorsi sees similarities between the two.

Accorsi recalled being in college and listening to John F. Kennedy in a presidential debate. At the time, he thought Kennedy had been preparing to be president since he was 7.

“I had that same impression from Belichick the first time I interviewed Belichick, and I got that impression from (Quinn),” Accorsi said. “He has been thinking about this. ... This was his plan.”

Accorsi declined comment on why the Lions didn’t interview Trent Kirchner, the Seahawks co-director of player personnel. In the end, Quinn, Giants assistant GM Kevin Abrams and Lions interim GM Sheldon White were the only men who interviewed for the job.

“Once you get a conviction, act,” Accorsi said of his thoughts on Quinn.

Wood said last week he wanted the GM in place as soon as possible, and he was looking for someone who can come build a consistently winning program. Less than a week later, the team hired Quinn, and now, Quinn will have to decide on coach Jim Caldwell’s status with the team and examine the scouting staff.

On Monday at 2 p.m., Quinn will have his introductory news conference, and from that point forward, the Lions will see if they made the right hire as the Ford family tries to win a championship for the first time since buying the team in 1963.

“That’s what we get paid to do and we hope we’re right,” Accorsi said. “I think in this case we’re going to be.”