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Rod Wood says next general manager will be 'what the Detroit Lions want'

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

When the Detroit Lions hired Bob Quinn as the team's general manager in 2015, they interviewed three candidates. To say they're being more thorough in the process this time around would be an understatement. 

The Lions have already interviewed three internal candidates and reportedly have talks lined up with four external options — ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, former Texans general manager Rick Smith, former Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli — by the end of the year. 

Scott Pioli

And that's before they even begin to explore candidates that are currently employed by other teams and can't be interviewed until the conclusion of the regular season. 

"One of the things that I think we're doing differently that didn't occur, at least in the searches I was involved in with Bob and Matt (Patricia), is really identifying what we want for a Detroit Lion coach and general manager," team president and CEO Rod Wood said in a Friday interview with 97.1-FM. "Not what some other team may want, but what do the Detroit Lions want? So we've been discussing and detailing a lot of very specific criteria that is unique to us and hopefully will fit a person that we find and we feel that that's the person. 

"I don't know whether that'll take a month or two months or weeks, but when we find the person, hopefully they match up with the criteria we've developed and they're going to be the right person for us and not the right person for some other team."

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With the hiring of Quinn, the Lions leaned heavily on the guidance of Ernie Acorsi, a former general manager recommended by the league. And it was Quinn who led the search that brought Matt Patricia to Detroit, although that move felt telegraphed before the search process even began. 

Wood didn't offer specifics about what the Lions are looking for in their next leadership, but Chris Spielman, who was recently brought on as a full-time adviser in the process, spoke generally about some of the desired traits he sees as critical to the GM position earlier this week. 

“There has to be, to me, clear communication," Spielman said. "Every guy that I spoke to, in the top three of their things that make a great organization — these questions have been asked for the last five years, plus other private conversations that I had — there has to be communication. Everybody has to understand the direction that we’re going. Everybody has to know what our culture is, and you can’t waver for them. Everybody has to know, ‘OK, what type of character do we want in the building?’ From everybody on down, everybody understands this is how the head coach and the general manager have to be in unison."

Wood said he, Spielman, owner Sheila Ford Hamp and vice president of football administration Mike Disner continue to have extensive conversations about candidates, utilizing various resources provided from around the league.

"There's all kinds of sources of information from other teams and agents and people that are sharing information with us, including our search committee that's been very helpful," Wood said. 

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And no one has been more enthusiastic about the process than Spielman. 

"It seems like a year, but it's only been a couple weeks and my day usually starts with a 4 a.m. text from Chris with an idea that he's thought of overnight," Wood said. "And I don't think he was texting me as soon as he woke up. I think he's been up for a while."

Wood, who has been temporarily heading Detroit's personnel departments since Quinn's firing at the end of last month, also noted that he'll resume his previous hands-off approach once a GM is in place. 

"That's the way it was and that's the way it will be," he said. "There's a reporting structure, but there's not a meddling structure, I guess, if that's the answer to the question. I don't involve myself in any of those decisions any more than Sheila does. We hire people that are experts at that and we let them do their jobs."