ALLEN PARK, Mich. — A couple of fans were granted an all-access tour of the Detroit Lions practice facility on Monday.
Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey and general manager Troy Weaver were both on-site to watch the latest training camp practice for the Detroit Lions.
Casey and Weaver also met with new Lions general manager Brad Holmes. They were on the field for most of the action.
The moment was significant: All three men are African Americans with lead roles, which is rare in sports, particularly in the same city. Detroit has a population that is approximately 79% Black, per the U.S. Census Bureau.
Holmes is one of five current Black GMs in the NFL. Weaver represents one of 11 Black GMs in the NBA.
Heading into next season, Casey is one of 13 Black NBA coaches. He says he appreciates the connection he has with Weaver and Holmes.
“Huge. I mean, you have some of the same struggles, some of the same mountains to climb to get to where you are and also, too, you understand the bottom line is winning,” Casey told ESPN. “So, that’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 aims to strengthen the pipeline for future Black GMs.
“Now I’m in this position, in this city, and now I’ve got to expand it, and make sure I’m fully injected into the Black community here,” said Holmes, an alum of HBCU North Carolina A&T.
Both the Pistons and Lions are in a rebuild.
The Lions went 5-11 last season and haven’t reached the playoffs since 2016. The Pistons ended 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 where we’re in the same trenches, we’re part of the Detroit fabric,” Casey said. “We both are growing with the City of Detroit, so it’s just fitting that we have this camaraderie and this togetherness with Troy and Brad.”
Casey is next-door neighbors with first-year Lions coach Dan Campbell. He said Monday was the first time they had a formal introduction.
“It’s so many similarities with our two organizations,” Casey said. “We’re on the same trajectory as far as our growth so for me, it’s great, plus I love professional football as well.
“Brad and Troy have had the same philosophy as bringing in character first,” he added. “A lot of GMs in basketball and football will bring in talent and say, ‘OK, Coach, you deal with the character,’ but no, Troy and Brad have brought in fighters, scrappers, and guys who are going to compete at a high level each night and that’s what you’re going to have when you’re a growing team.”