Lions GM on Matt Patricia accusation: 'I'm not paid to do extensive background checks'

Matt Patricia, right, is introduced as the new head coach of the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/det" data-ylk="slk:Detroit Lions">Detroit Lions</a> by general manager Bob Quinn, left, back in February. (AP)
Matt Patricia, right, is introduced as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions by general manager Bob Quinn, left, back in February. (AP)

The story of Matt Patricia and a sexual assault accusation deep in his past was hot for a few moments last offseason, then it cooled off once the Detroit Lions decided they weren’t going to fire him.

The question remains of how the Lions never knew about it. The Detroit News reported on the 1996 incident based on court records, and the Lions presumably could have done the same. In 1996, Patricia and a college teammate were indicted by a grand jury on one count of aggravated sexual assault, but never went to trial because the accuser wouldn’t testify, according to the Detroit News. Patricia has denied any wrongdoing

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That case was mostly forgotten, but Lions general manager Bob Quinn was reminded of it Friday, and he gave an interesting answer as to why he didn’t know about it when the Lions hired Patricia.

Bob Quinn says he’s not paid to do extensive background checks

Quinn hadn’t spoken to the media since the Detroit News’ report in May, presumably due to his and Patricia’s media silence policy that stems from their Patriots days. So it made sense that he was asked Friday about what happened then, and he gave an unfortunate answer.

“Listen, I’m not paid to do extensive background checks,” Quinn said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I’m here to select the head coach, I’m very comfortable with Matt Patricia as our head coach.” 

The Lions tweeted out the video of Quinn’s press conference, you can see it here. The questions about Patricia and the 1996 incident start at 11:22.

That’s not exactly true. A big part of any general manager’s job is to know as much as possible about draft picks, for example. Story after story has been written about teams doing intense investigative work into prospects. You’d think Quinn has done that, and that doing homework on the head coach would be way more important than some third-round safety. Quinn said the Lions did a background search and “nothing came up,” though that rings hollow when the local newspaper found out about it. 

We knew in May that the Lions dropped the ball on looking into Patricia, and we were reminded of it Friday.

Lions were ‘very comfortable’ with Matt Patricia

Ultimately, it probably didn’t matter. The Lions seemed unmoved by what they did find out in May through the media. There never seemed to be a real chance Patricia wouldn’t keep his job, presumably because he never even went to trial and wasn’t convicted of anything. Had the Lions in January looked into what happened, they might have had the same reaction.

Quinn said the team was “very comfortable” with Patricia, who went 6-10 his first season, as its head coach.

“I first found out about it a couple days before the article came out,” Quinn said, according to the Free Press. “Matt had got wind that the article was going to come out and he came and told me. So we had extensive conversations with myself, ownership, [president] Rod [Wood] about everything, and then we put out that statement back in May about our support for Matt and that’s kind of how it went down.”

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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