Former Lion Hartings Vouches For Grimm

ALLEN PARK -- New names continue to pop up and the interview process continues, but the coaching candidate that seems to hold the most intrigue for Lions fans and media is Russ Grimm, the assistant coach and offensive line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

ALLEN PARK -- New names continue to pop up and the interview process continues, but the coaching candidate that seems to hold the most intrigue for Lions fans and media is Russ Grimm, the assistant coach and offensive line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Grimm, 46, has no head coaching experience, as do fellow candidates Dick Jauron (Chicago and interim head coach with the Lions) and Jim Haslett (New Orleans).

He has no experience as a coordinator, as do Maurice Carthon (Cleveland), Gary Kubiak (Denver), Jerry Gray (Buffalo), Al Saunders (Kansas City), Tim Lewis (New York Giants), Ron Rivera (Chicago) and Jim Schwartz (Tennessee).

And there is nothing to indicate that Lions president Matt Millen sees Grimm as anything more than another qualified candidate for the job, despite the fact the two were teammates on the Super Bowl champion 1991 Washington Redskins team.

Except for a few general comments a week ago regarding his plans to conduct a thorough coach search, Millen has been invisible and unreachable. The Lions have neither confirmed nor denied meeting with candidates rumored to have been interviewed for the job.

After being roundly criticized for making an impulse hire with Marty Mornhinweg in 2001 and being fined $200,000 for ignoring minority candidates in his rush to get Steve Mariucci on board in 2003, Millen has obviously learned his lesson.

The question lingering in Detroit's football community is whether - even in a process shrouded in secrecy - Millen will finally make the right choice for a coach to bring the Lions out of the five-year tailspin in which they have managed only 21 victories in 80 games.

Millen clearly has focused on a number of top candidates and each day seems to bring a new name to the surface. Mostly recently San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli have been projected into the competition by the media.

Yet it is Grimm who seems to hold a fascination, perhaps because of his tough, disciplined approach, which has been missing in the Lions since Bobby Ross retired and Millen fired his replacement, Gary Moeller, at the end of the 2000 season.

Pro Bowl center Jeff Hartings, a former Lion, plays for Grimm at Pittsburgh and raves about him, although admitting he'd prefer Grimm remain with the Steelers.

"He knows more about the game than anybody I've been around," Hartings said, "so that's obviously going to be a credit to him if he becomes a head coach.

"But the most important thing for a head coach is being a leader. Whatever your personality or attitude is as a head coach, that'll be the team's personality and attitude. Obviously, he's led our offensive line in that manner very well the last five years. I would kind of just assume that would carry over to being a head coach."

Millen was expected to have a preliminary interview with Grimm this week but can't do anything more as long as the Steelers remain in the playoffs.


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