Chris Spielman is leaving the TV booth to join the Detroit Lions' front office, the club announced Tuesday.
Spielman will join the club as a special assistant to the chairman and CEO. The Lions' chairman is Shiela Ford Hamp, the team's principal owner, and Rod Wood is the team's CEO.
"This is an exciting day for the Lions organization," Wood said in a statement. "The Ford Family and I look forward to working with Chris and leaning on his knowledge and advice as we take the next steps as a team. His relationship with our team and our city will serve as a strong foundation for him in helping to fortify and sustain our organization's culture."
Spielman's principal duty will be to assist in the Lions' search for a new direction. The team is currently searching for a new GM and a new head coach, and Spielman will help direct those searches. The Lions are the NFL's most consistent losers, having suffered losing seasons in 16 of their last 20 campaigns. The team last won a playoff game in 1991 and has not reached the NFC Championship since the NFL-AFL merger half a century ago.
Whether that means he'll have more power than the men he helps hire or if he'll step to the side while the new GM and head coach lead the way remains to be seen.
"I am humbled and excited about the opportunity to be involved with the franchise that is truly a part of me. The opportunity to work with Rod Wood and every single person in the Lions organization can't get here fast enough. To Lions fans everywhere, I will do everything in my power to help Mrs. Hamp and the Ford Family achieve their vision of something we can all be proud of," Spielman said.
The move means Spielman will leave the Fox booth, where he called NFL games as a color analyst since 2016. He called college football games on ESPN for many years prior to that, having entered local media in the Columbus and Detroit markets following his playing career. He also serves as the color analyst on the TV broadcast of Lions preseason games.
A College Football Hall of Famer, Spielman played linebacker at Ohio State and was a first-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 1988, where he played for eight seasons. Spielman also played for the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns.
Spielman joins a growing list of former players who jump directly into executive roles without having climbed the executive ladder. The San Francisco 49ers hired John Lynch as their GM directly from Fox, and Mike Mayock left NFL Network to become the GM of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Spielman's professional experience as something other than a player or an analyst came in his one season as head coach of the Arena Football League's Columbus Destroyers, in 2005. The club went 2-14 in his one season.
Spielman is the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman.
In addition to Spielman, the Lions also hired former Michigan State AD Mark Hollis, Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders and Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation executive director Rod Graves to assist with the GM and head coach searches.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.