Patriots owner Kraft praises Lions’ Quinn

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

San Francisco — The Patriots let Bob Quinn interview for the Lions general manager job last month because it was a perfect opportunity for him to run his own team.

But, the man who runs the franchise was still upset to see him leave New England after 16 years.

“He’s a great guy,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Saturday before the NFL Honors show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. “He’s intelligent; he’s hard-working. I was very sorry to see him leave us, but happy for you.”

The Lions hope Quinn can bring some of the success the Patriots have had to Detroit. In a search led by consultant Ernie Accorsi, a former GM for three teams, the Lions zeroed in on Quinn early in the process as his first interview happened two days after the regular season ended.

Other members of the Patriots front office have left New England to become GM. Scott Pioli went to Kansas City in 2009, and the Falcons hired Thomas Dimitroff in 2008. The Titans hired Jon Robinson after two years in Tampa Bay, but he joined the Buccaneers after 12 years with the Patriots.

Dimitroff said spending time around the “best” evaluators in the NFL should help Quinn in his transition to Detroit.

“I’ve always been really impressed with Bob’s ability to evaluate talent, and the biggest thing is staying true to what you believe in as far as evaluation abilities,” Dimitroff said on the Super Bowl’s radio row last week. “That’s what we’ve always said. It’s about being true to evaluate in the system and be true to the system, and that’s something that we’ve always taken a lot of pride in.”

The hiring of Quinn also impressed Jets owner Woody Johnson, who said Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford has been speaking with her actions.

“She’s made some amazing changes,” Johnson said Saturday. “I know she wants to win, and she’s going to make changes that will help her do that.”