Michigan legislators come together urging Lions to hire hometown star Robert Saleh

Cassandra Negley
·Writer
·3-min read

If there’s something Michigan legislators can agree on with ease, it’s the Detroit Lions.

A group of lawmakers in the state penned an open letter to the team thanking them for the coaching change and urging them to hire San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to the position. It was led by state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, with two pages of signatures by both Democrats and Republicans.

The letter, written to Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp, was published in full on Friday by News 4 in Detroit.

Legislators thank Lions for firing Patricia

Hammoud and the signees began with appreciation for the recent firing of coach Matt Patricia — an emotion shared by some current former players — and general manager Bob Quinn.

“We are writing today to thank you for the recent decision to make a change at manager and head coach for your franchise. These decisions are often difficult but are necessary to move forward. For many in our state, and across the globe, the Detroit Lions hold a special place in our lives. We look forward to future success through transitioning to a new manager and head coach.”

Patricia and Quinn were together with the Lions for two and a half seasons, during which the team was 13-29-1. It has been a long few years for Lions faithful that hit a head on Thanksgiving in an embarrassing nationally televised loss to the Houston Texans.

Legislators make call for Saleh as coach

The letter then quickly gets to the point: the group wants the team to hire Saleh, a native of Dearborn, Michigan, who played collegiately at Northern Michigan University and coached at Michigan State.

“Everywhere Robert has been he has achieved success,” the group wrote.

With one of the best defenses in the league, Saleh helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl in February. Niners cornerback Richard Sherman has publicly endorsed his coach for the job, which the legislators cited in the letter.

“We understand the difficulty of these upcoming decisions. As passionate and loyal Lions fans, we are asking you to hire Robert Saleh as the head coach of our team. He is the best candidate for the job and measures as such across every metric. A head coach like Robert can bring tremendous energy and heart to the franchise and would help us reach peaks that have seemed unobtainable for so long. We have an exceptional opportunity here and we trust you to make the best decision.

“To turn the corner and become a winning franchise, these next hiring decisions are crucial.”

Robert Saleh with a headset.
Robert Saleh grew up in Michigan and attended college there. (Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Saleh a sought after coaching candidate

The Lions haven’t won a division title since 1993 and have only one playoff victory in the Super Bowl era. That came in 1991, but was followed by a 41-10 loss to Washington in the conference title game. Hence why Lions fans are doing whatever they can to force new ways. Hammoud told ESPN even more legislators wanted to sign the letter, but opted not to so they didn’t jinx it.

“A lot of us in the Legislature love the Lions and we decided why not throw out a helping hand," Hammoud told ESPN. “And kind of guide them kind of toward the coach that we'd like to see come home, who is a Michigan man.”

Saleh, 41, has been one of the most talked about NFL coaching candidates over the past years. He’s been with the 49ers since 2017 and interviewed for the Cleveland Browns job last offseason. The Browns hired Kevin Stefanski.

He was a linebackers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars and a defensive assistant in Houston and Seattle.

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