Boca Raton, Fla. — Ernie Accorsi thought his days as a consultant were over after helping the Chicago Bears find a general manager last year. At 74, Accorsi said the searches were physically taxing.
Then, with the Lions looking for a GM after firing Martin Mayhew in November, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson asked Accorsi to help the Detroit franchise. On Wednesday, Goodell said such a suggestion is “not unusual” because of the league’s desire to have all teams improve after an overhaul.
“I would say that happens multiple times per year,” he said during a news conference at the conclusion of NFL annual meetings at the Boca Raton Resort and Club.
Through the NFL’s Career Development Advisory panel, which was formed in 2013, the league has offered helped to several teams in the search for new leadership, either in the front office or with coaches. Accorsi, a former GM for the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts, is a member of the panel.
Although Goodell reaching out to talk Accorsi — who previously consulted on GM searches for the Bears, Panthers and Falcons — out of retirement seemed unique, the commissioner said the league typically wants to help in executive overhauls, though he said it’s not his position to get involved in football decisions.
“But I am very happy to give them some insight into people who have the kind of knowledge that can help them and guide them through that process,” Goodell said.
Goodell also intimated that working with someone like Accorsi makes more sense than hiring outside help like a search firm. Former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt told The Detroit News in November that the Lions planned to hire Heidrick and Struggles, a Chicago-based executive search firm, but it’s unclear what happened with that plan.
The Lions announced the hiring of Accorsi as a consultant later in November, and he’s staying on as a consultant to new president Rod Wood.
“When you’re dealing with a subset of football personnel,” Goodell said, “I think people like Ernie Accorsi who understand the personnel, understand what it’s like to put an organization together, what’s the appropriate structure, who these individuals are, I think they serve a much more valuable function. And Ernie is someone that I have the highest regard for — his experience, his integrity and his ability to help.
“And I have, among other people, recommended Ernie on a frequent basis, and I’ll continue to do that because we want all of our clubs to organize, structure and get to a better place.”