New York Jets Make Historic Hire With Head Coach Robert Saleh, Legislators Reportedly Wrote Lions Wanting Them To Hire Michigan Native
The New York Jets announced they hired 49’ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as their new head coach.
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Saleh was born in Dearborn, Michigan per Pro Football Reference and graduated from Northern Michigan University where he was an all-conference tight end according (as NMU mentioned).
That NFL team in Michigan needing a new head coach? The Lions. And Michigan legislators were on it, wanting Saleh to come back to his home state to coach the home team.
According to ESPN: “there was plenty of competition for Saleh, who received interview requests from six of the seven teams in the NFL head-coaching market.”
One of those teams who interviewed Saleh was the Lions per the Detroit Free Press.
According to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, “a group of Michigan state legislators…sent a letter to Detroit Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp urging her to hire San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as the team’s next head coach. Saleh, a native of Dearborn, Michigan, grew up in the state, played college football there, and his family has long football ties to Michigan State and the state’s football history.”
ESPN reported that the letter was from Rep. Abdullah Hammoud and his staff and that “he got support from both Democrat and Republican legislators and from all parts of the state from the Upper Peninsula to Detroit”.
It seemed legislators from both sides of the aisle wanted this homecoming of sorts.
“A lot of us in the Legislature love the Lions and we decided why not throw out a helping hand,” Hammoud told ESPN. “And kind of guide them kind of toward the coach that we’d like to see come home, who is a Michigan man.”
But the Lions decided to go another route as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says Saints assistant head coach and tight end’s coach Dan Campbell is the favorite to be the Lions’ coach.
No legislators were needed in New York as it was the Jets, who finished 2-14 on the season, who ended up hiring Saleh.
As the 49’ers defensive coordinator, Saleh helped lead the 49’ers to the Super Bowl last year.
In that 2019 season, the team’s defense ranked first in receiving yards allowed, first in the league in forced fumbles, and fifth in the league in sacks.
The Jets also made history with this hiring:
“Saleh, who is Lebanese American, will join Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ron Rivera of the Washington Football Team as active minority head coaches in the league” per ESPN.
According to LGIC.org, Saleh becomes the third-ever Lebanese American NFL head coach.
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