A group of Michigan state lawmakers sent a letter to Detroit Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp urging her to appoint Robert Saleh, the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator, as the team’s next head coach.
Born in Dearborn, Michigan, Saleh grew up playing college football in the state. His family has long been linked to the state of Michigan and the state’s football history.
“We understand the difficulty of these upcoming decisions,” the letter said. “As passionate and loyal Lions fans, we ask that you hire Robert Saleh to head our team. He is the best candidate for the job and as such measures in every metric. A head coach like Robert can bring tremendous energy and heart to the franchise and would help us achieve peaks that have been inaccessible in so long. We have an exceptional opportunity here and we trust that you will make the best decision.
“Turning around the corner and becoming a successful franchisee, these next hiring decisions are vital. We hope you will find Robert Saleh head coach not just for us but for everyone in our beloved Detroit Lions’ loyal fan base. “
The letter written by Rep. Abdullah Hammoud and his staff also thanked Hamp for making the decision on Saturday after more than two seasons to fire general manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia. These steps are necessary to move forward.
Hamp said Saturday that the team will cast a wide net in finding potential candidates for head coach and general manager positions, including college and professional-level opportunities without hindering their search.
“We’ll look at everything,” said Hamp.
A message for Lions seeking comment was not immediately sent back to ESPN.
Saleh said he doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on in his home state.
“This league is so from week to week and the most important week right now is Monday Night Football against Buffalo,” Saleh said on Friday afternoon. “We have a team that is in the middle of the playoff chase. For me, this really isn’t a problem. I don’t talk about it. I don’t even really see it. I don’t have social media. I don’t watch the news. It so it’s probably more for family and friends to have fun and have fun with than me. We’re completely trapped in Buffalo. “
The Lions won a playoff game in the Super Bowl era – the 1991 season – and haven’t won a division title since 1993. They replace Patricia, who took the lead 13: 29: 1 in more than two seasons.
Hammoud, who, like Saleh, is from Dearborn, said he knew Saleh’s family but had never met Saleh. Hammoud said he has had support from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and from all parts of the state from the Upper Peninsula to Detroit.
“Many of us in the legislature love Lions and we’ve made up our minds why we shouldn’t help,” Hammoud told ESPN. “And somehow they lead you to the coach we’d love to see come home who’s a Michigan man.”
More than 40 lawmakers have considered signing the letter, Hammoud said. Hammoud said many of the lawmakers are Lions fans and are consistently watching the team.
He said some lawmakers didn’t want to sign the letter, even though they preferred Saleh because they didn’t want to bewitch him. Hammoud said during these stressful times it was fun to talk about the Lions for a few minutes while collecting the signatures to put this together.
“Even in the time of COVID, we all rely on our sports teams,” said Hammoud. “We all watch together, we watch, we talk online, on social media, whatever it is, so we really want the Lions to be successful in some way.”
Saleh, 41, went to Northern Michigan and trained at the college level in Michigan, central Michigan, and Georgia. He has been San Francisco’s defensive coordinator since 2017 and was previously a linebacker trainer in Jacksonville and a defensive assistant in Houston and Seattle.
ESPN’s Nick Wagoner contributed to this report.