Lions gauged Tony Dungy’s interest in vacant coaching position before hiring Jim Caldwell

Anwar S Richardson

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew had to ask.

Mayhew was conducting a search for the Lions’ next coach and called people he knew about potential candidates. Former NFL coach Tony Dungy knew Jim Caldwell, who was previously one of his assistants in Indianapolis. Mayhew called Dungy to get his thoughts on Caldwell, which made sense.

Before Mayhew asked any questions about Caldwell, however, he wanted to know if Dungy had any interest in coaching the Lions.

“He said, ‘I got to start this off, are you interested at all?’” Dungy told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “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.”

Caldwell was officially named Jim Schwartz's replacement on Tuesday, but you cannot blame Mayhew for testing the waters.

Dungy is among 15 modern-era finalists who will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Hall’s Selection Committee meets in New York City on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. He coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts, compiling a 139-69 coaching record between 1996 and 2008. He won a Super Bowl with the Colts during the 2006 season.

In other words, there is nothing wrong with swinging for the fences.

Birkett reports Dungy gave Caldwell a great recommendation, and that contributed to the hiring of Detroit’s 26th head coach.

It is hard to blame Mayhew for checking to see if Dungy wanted the job before hiring Caldwell. Imagine the good luck Mayhew could have stumbled into if Dungy actually said he wanted the job.

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Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!