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Lions’ Ford: ‘I have a winner’ in Bob Quinn

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — In 2001, the Lions hired Matt Millen to run their football operations. Then, after firing him, the team promoted Martin Mayhew to make personnel decisions.

Now, after 15 years of leadership from Millen and others on his staff, the Lions are going a different direction, hiring Bob Quinn as general manager after he spent the past 16 years working for the New England Patriots.

“I just thought we needed a fresh start,” said Martha Firestone Ford, the Lions owner, after Quinn’s introductory news conference Monday.

In Quinn, the Lions think they have someone who can build the team into a championship contender. The Lions have won just one postseason game since 1957, but after decades of failure in Detroit, the Ford family expects Quinn to deliver better results to the city.

“I just know that I think I have a winner,” Ford said.

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Ford said she was “excited” that the Lions hired Quinn, who was New England’s director of pro scouting since 2012. She sat in for both of Quinn’s interviews, one in Providence, R.I., last Tuesday and another in Metro Detroit last Thursday.

“I liked his enthusiasm, and I love that he brought a portfolio about our team and what he would do, or what he hopes to do and what his thoughts were,” she said. “So I thought that was very impressive. We had a good gut feeling.”

Quinn, 39, had a good feeling about working for Ford, too, and singled her out as a primary reason the job was appealing.

“I met with Mrs. Ford on a couple of different occasions, and each time I came out of it saying, ‘She wants to win,’” Quinn said. “And that’s what I’m about is winning.”

The Lions hired Ernie Accorsi, who was previously the GM for three NFL teams, as a consultant to run their GM search, but Ford and team president Rod Wood were heavily involved. Wood said Ford’s four children sat in for Quinn’s interview last Thursday, too.

“(I) just kind of walked out of there going, ‘Wow, I can’t believe we found this person,’ ” Wood said.