One of the things that sold the Lions on new head coach Jim Caldwell was the glowing recommendation of former Colts and Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy.
But before the Lions went there, they had to know if Dungy himself would be interested in the job.
Dungy told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that was among the first questions Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew asked, and he quickly dismissed it.
“He said, ‘I got to start this off, are you interested at all?’” Dungy said. “And I said, ‘No, Martin, I’m not.’ And then we went on. We were able to talk about what we needed to talk about.”
While the perception of many — and perhaps the correct one — is that the Lions settled for Caldwell, aiming high couldn’t hurt.
Caldwell worked for Dungy, and was his hand-picked successor, going 26-22 in three years with the Colts.
Dungy said he talked to Mayhew shortly after Jim Schwartz was fired, and spoke several times to team vice chairman Bill Ford Jr.
“One time we had a phone conversation and we just talked about what they were looking for,” Dungy said. “I really talked more to Mr. Ford about [Steelers chairman] Dan Rooney and the way Dan went about his search. Dan’s hired three coaches in 40-some years. They haven’t been big-name guys when they’ve been hired, but they fit the profile of what he was looking for, and that’s all I told Bill. I said I think from talking to Martin you’ve got a profile, you know what you’re looking for, get the guy who fits that. Don’t worry about what the media thinks, what the fans think, what anybody else thinks. Fill your profile and you’re going to be fine, and I think that’s exactly what they’ve done.”
Of course, Dungy would have filled a different profile, but it would have been a slightly higher one.