Robert Saleh has been a hot coaching name for a few names now. Last season, his San Francisco 49ers defense was among the best in the NFL, leading the team to the NFC Championship and a Super Bowl berth. Now, the Detroit Lions job in his home state of Michigan is open.
He was one of the finalists for the Cleveland Browns job last season. That ultimately went to former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who was tasked with getting the most out of former No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield.
Niners star Richard Sherman has been very outspoken about Saleh’s candidacy for head coaching jobs. “He has to get the Detroit job,” he told Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer earlier this week. “Homegrown. He’s a great leader of men. And he’s not stubborn. He doesn’t just think he has all the answers. He comes up with a great plan and evolves it with his players. He’s a great human being. Makes you want to fight for him.”
With Matt Patricia out the door, the team has the chance to make history by hiring Saleh. A group of legislators from the state have penned a letter to team owner Sheila Ford Hamp calling for her to hire the Dearborn native. That would make him the first Arab-American head coach in NFL history, and add to the number of minority head coaches in the league, an issue that the NFL says it wants to improve on.
Vote of confidence: Politicians eye Robert Saleh for Lions & urge Sheila Ford Hamp to do the same.https://t.co/ne3U9iDzm6
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) December 4, 2020
Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, who represents Michigan’s 15th district in the state house of representatives, thanked Ford Hamp for moving on from Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn before making the pitch for Saleh, on behalf of his group of state representatives.
“We understand the difficulty of these upcoming decisions,” the letter reads. “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 critical. We hope that you will consider Robert Saleh as the head coach, not only for us, but for everyone across the loyal fanbase of our beloved Detroit Lions.”
“In the time of COVID also, we all kind of lean on our sports teams,” Hammoud told ESPN. “We all kind of watch together, we watch, chat about it online, social media, whatever it might be, so we really want the Lions to succeed in some capacity.”
The Detroit Lions haven’t tipped their hands yet, saying that they intend to “cast a wide net” in the search for head coach and general manager. They may go in a different direction, but Saleh clearly brings some very tangible assets that are important to a large swath of Lions fans.