As the NFL’s hiring practices move into the light of a lawsuit, the Detroit Lions are alleged to have held a sham head coaching interview with Teryl Austin before hiring Matt Patricia.
In former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL to call out the league’s hiring practices, he’s alleging he recently had a “sham” interview with the New York Giants because they’d already settled on Brian Daboll as their next head coach. Now, the Detroit Lions are alleged to have done the same a few years ago with Teryl Austin.
Austin was the Lions’ defensive coordinator for all four of Jim Caldwell’s seasons as head coach. He just completed his third season as Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive backs coach, and he has interviewed for several head coaching jobs over the years (11 to be exact). But his agent is now singling out the Lions for not doing an interview in good faith back in 2018.
In a note included in an Associated Press profile on Austin this week, agent Eric Metz didn’t mince words about former Lions general manager Bob Quinn.
“(Former Lions general manager) Bob Quinn knew he was hiring Matt Patricia and used Teryl to comply with the Rooney Rule,” Austin’s agent Eric Metz said in a note to the AP on Wednesday. “Didn’t work out well for the Lions. Never should’ve fired Jim Caldwell.”
Austin didn’t have a specific comment on that interview with the Lions, but did have a telling broader comment about his head coaching interview experiences.
“Because I think I’ve had 11, I can tell when one was just an (expletive) interview and I could tell when I was really in it,”
When Quinn came to the Lions from the New England Patriots to become general manager, then-head coach Caldwell was immediately on thin ice. A 9-7, non-playoff season in 2017 paved the way for Quinn to fire Caldwell and hire “his guy”, Patriots’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Patricia did not last three full seasons, fired along with Quinn in November of 2020, with a 13-29-1 record.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported Quinn did not respond to a voice message left for him Thursday morning, and the Lions declined to comment on the Austin situation.
Austin may be elevated to defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh to replace Keith Butler, who stepped down after the Steelers’ season was over. Where his journey to get a head coaching job will go can’t be known. But the idea of sham head coaching interviews to fulfill the Rooney Rule isn’t new, and even with Flores’ lawsuit time will tell if the bad faith practice ever totally goes away.