Lions GM Candidate Reportedly Given Key ‘Glowing Recommendation’ for Job

Rick Spielman

Getty Rick Spielman at a Super Bowl party.

The Detroit Lions are in the process of narrowing the field for their next general manager, and one of the names on the list is Minnesota Vikings’ assistant general manager George Paton.

Paton, long coveted for jobs in the NFL, is a hot name again in this cycle. This past week, he interviewed for the Detroit job and he also has an interview for the Denver Broncos’ general manager role lined up as well. Interestingly, though, Paton’s strongest connections could be in Detroit this cycle, which could lead him to be firmly in the mix to get the Lions gig when all is said and done.

According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Paton has been giving a glowing recommendation by Rick Spielman to his brother Chris Spielman, who is one of the power brokers in on the decision on what happens next in Detroit.

How much will family ties matter in this case? It’s hard to say, but it’s clear that Paton is likely going to be a strong contender for the Lions based on this fact. Spielman has been involved heavily in the Detroit process since the team hired him, and if Paton comes with the seal of approval of a top general manger, it could be hard for Detroit brass to ignore.


George Paton Biography

If Paton manages to get the Detroit job, it won’t simply be based on nepotism alone. He’s been a strong candidate for the last few seasons across the league with regards to other jobs. Last season, the Cleveland Browns were very interested in Paton, and he’s declined interviews elsewhere. The fact the Lions were able to get Paton in the mix for an interview is seemingly very significant.

Paton is a 13 year employee of the Minnesota Vikings, and has been in the NFL since 2000, when he started as a personnel executive with the Chicago Bears. Paton also worked with the Miami Dolphins. He’s been highly respected as one of Rick Spielman’s closest right-hand executives since he started in the game. Paton played football himself, playing four years at UCLA from 1988-1991 before playing football overseas. Following that experience, he launched into his executive career. He’s had experience working both in pro scouting and college scouting.


George Paton’s Connections With Detroit

If the Lions brought Paton into the mix to lead the front office moving forward, it could be a seamless transition considering the fact that another Spielman is now within the front office and likely would know him well. As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press pointed out, Paton has ties to Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy as well as Detroit’s interim coach Darrell Bevell, and either could potentially be in the mix for coaching roles with the team as a result. Pairing Bieniemy with Paton could be a very solid move for the Lions.

The Lions have maintained that experience is a huge plus for their search, but Paton would bring some first hand knowledge to the mix given he has been part of one of the best scouting and development staffs in the league recently. The Spielman connection cannot be ignored, and neither can Paton’s status as a bright mind that could make a compelling case to take over the team and usher in a new day.

With this recommendation, the Lions might have had their eyes opened a bit more by Paton.


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