ALLEN PARK, Michigan – A few fans were granted a tour of the Detroit Lions practice facility on Monday.
Detroit Pistons trainer Dwane Casey and General Manager Troy Weaver were both on site to see the latest training camp for the Detroit Lions.
Casey and Weaver also met with new Lions chief executive Brad Holmes. They were in the field most of the time.
The moment was telling: all three men are African American with leading roles, which is rare in sports, especially in the same city. Detroit has a population that is roughly 79% black, according to the US Census Bureau.
Holmes is one of five current Black GMs in the NFL. Weaver represents one of 11 black GMs in the NBA.
For the next season, Casey is one of 13 black NBA coaches. He says he values the connection he has with Weaver and Holmes.
“Huge. I mean, you have some of the same difficulties, some of the same mountains that you have to climb to get where you are, and you also understand that the bottom line wins,” Casey told ESPN. “So it’s a great thing to have that in the same city, a city like Detroit, and it just fits. We know we still have a job to do, but it’s great to see Troy and Brad both get the opportunity. “
Holmes previously told ESPN that he intends to strengthen the pipeline for future black GMs.
“Now I’m in this position, in this town, and now I have to grow it and make sure I’m fully involved in the black community here,” said Holmes, an alum from HBCU North Carolina A&T.
Both the pistons and the lions are under construction.
The Lions reached 5-11 last season and haven’t made the playoffs since 2016. The Pistons finished the 2020-21 season with a 20-52 record and haven’t made a postseason appearance since 2018-19.
The leaders of both organizations are trying to turn things around.
“It’s one of those things that we’re in the same rift about, we’re part of the Detroit fabric,” Casey said. “We both grow with the city of Detroit, so it just fits that we have this camaraderie and that feeling of togetherness with Troy and Brad.”
Casey is a first year neighbor of Lions trainer Dan Campbell. He said Monday was the first time they had a formal introduction.
“There are so many similarities with our two organizations,” said Casey. “We’re on the same path in terms of growth, it’s great for me and I love professional football too.
“Brad and Troy shared the same philosophy of bringing character first,” he added. “A lot of basketball and football GMs will bring talent and say, ‘OK, Coach, you handle the character,’ but no, Troy and Brad have brought fighters, scrappers and guys who will be competing in a competition every night a high Level and that’s what you will have when you are a growing team. “