ALLEN PARK – Brad Holmes once worked for Enterprise Rental Car because he could not find a job in the NFL. Then he started working PR for the Atlanta Hawks.
In 2003, he finally broke into the NFL – as an intern in the PR department of St. Louis. Louis Rams.
Now, 18 years later, he’s ready to become the next general manager of the Detroit Lions.
Holmes is expected to sign a five-year deal to replace Bob Quinn in Detroit, according to several reports. He becomes Lions̵
He was point-man for landing big draft picks as a two-hour NFL defensive player Aaron Donald – after the Lions passed him on to Eric Ebron – 2017 offensive player of the year Todd Gurley and two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jared Goff. That group won an NFC championship in 2017, drew a fourth straight winning season this year and just beat the Seahawks 30-20 in a wild-card game over the weekend. They travel to Green Bay on Saturday to face the Packers in the division round of the playoffs – a round that the Lions have not seen since the 1991 season.
Now the Lions are handing over their pursuit of their first playoff win since that season to Holmes. He was selected from a pool of 12 candidates interviewed for the position, an exhaustive search that quadrupled the pool that produced Bob Quinn back in 2016 and culminated in one of the worst regimes in franchise history. Quinn and Matt Patricia were fired after a blowout loss at Thanksgiving left the so-called Quinntricia era just 19-23-1.
“I think after going through (the hiring process) now twice, there are things I’ve learned and things hopefully we will do better,” team president Rod Wood said recently. “I think one of the things is to add more people to the process.”
This included on the Lions side, where Wood and owner Shiela Ford Hamp led the search, but brought in external voices by hiring Chris Spielman as a full-time consultant and part-time consultants such as the Hall of Fame, running back Barry Sanders, former Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis and former Cardinals general manager Rod Graves.
The Lions also expanded the candidate pool and interviewed people like Colts assistant general manager Ed Dodds, former Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, former Texans general manager Rick Smith, former chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, Saints assistant general manager for pro staff Terry Fontenot , Rams College Boy Scout Director Brad Holmes, Vikings Assistant General Manager George Paton, Saints Assistant General Manager Jeff Ireland and Internal Candidates Rob Lohman, Lance Newmark and Kyle O’Brien
Paton, who worked under Spielman’s brother in Minnesota, was the only candidate brought to Allen Park for the first round of interviews and was considered a favorite. But he accepted a six-year deal with Denver, and Detroit turned its focus toward Holmes.
Holmes was the only candidate brought in for another interview. The Atlanta Falcons also persecuted him harshly and interviewed him twice, but he has ultimately agreed to take the Detroit job instead.
Football runs in Holmes’ blood. His father, Mel, was a guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His uncle, Luther Bradley, was a first-round pick among Lions in 1978. And Brad Holmes continued that tradition, playing defensive tackle in the North Carolina A&T.
But his leap into the business side of the game was not easy. He had so much trouble landing the first job that he spent some time working at Enterprise Rental Car and then doing PR for the Atlanta Hawks. He took another PR internship with St. Louis Rams in 2003 before landing a scout internship for the following draft. His responsibilities included making coffee, driving guys to / from the airport and making copies.
Less than two decades later, he has become the latest in a long line of first-time leaders responsible for bringing the Detroit Lions back to life after more than six decades of interrupted failure. It’s a daunting task, done more by a list that fell due during the failed import of Patriot Way.
The Lions nearly set the franchise record for allowed yards in a season in 2019 and then actually set the record in 2020. These are two of the three worst defenses in franchise history in back-to-back years, and now they have only five draft picks and one shrinking hood to meet their significant needs – none of which pose threatening questions about what to do with quarterback Matthew Stafford and host Kenny Golladay if the latter is eligible to become a free agent in March.
At the moment, the focus will be on pairing Holmes with the right head coach. The Lions have said they envision a relationship in partnership between their new GM and coach rather than a top-down reporting structure. Holmes’ hiring was made independent of the head coach, and Sheila Ford Hamp, not Holmes, is expected to pick the next whistle.
Given Holme’s inexperience – he’s a first time GM, like all his predecessors in Detroit – it would not be a surprise to see the Lions pursue a head coach with experience. The most experienced candidate the Lions have interviewed is former Bengals Marvin Lewis. Other candidates who have served as head coaches are Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell (once the temporary HC in Miami) and Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell. Detroit has also asked to speak with former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, though that conversation has not yet taken place.
Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has no experience with head training, but has already landed the first (and only) second interview with Detroit. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh have also interviewed for the position.