Detroit Lions interim general manager Sheldon White speaks during an NFL football news conference Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in Allen Park, Mich. White replaces Martin Mayhew who was fired along with team president Tom Lewand. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya
November 12, 2015

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Sheldon White may have a slim chance to keep his job beyond this season.

The Detroit Lions' interim general manager knows there is a crucial key to his improbable shot to stay in charge.

''The best way to be a candidate is to win these games,'' White said Thursday at his first news conference since being promoted a week ago. ''If we don't, then I won't be a candidate.''

The Lions have not commented on their search since team owner Martha Firestone Ford said a national search began last week. Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press the Lions have not hired a firm to assist them with their search for new executives, contrary to published reports. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the topic.

Detroit seems likely to look outside the organization for a GM because the last time an assistant was promoted it didn't go very well.

The Lions fired general manager Matt Millen during the 2008 season and promoted Martin Mayhew to replace him on an interim basis. Despite going on to become the NFL's first 0-16 team that season, Mayhew was retained to make football-related decisions.

Detroit reached the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since the 1999 season, but the team has just one playoff victory since winning the 1957 NFL title and that came in 1991. They are 1-7 this season with a trip to NFC North power Green Bay (6-2) coming on Sunday.

Ford fired Mayhew and team president Tom Lewand, who was in his 20th season with the team, a week ago and replaced them with White and Allison Maki. The relatively surprising firings put everyone in the organization on notice.

''The only person with a lifetime appointment in this building is our owner,'' White said.

White is in his 19th year with the Lions, who previously promoted him to vice president of pro personnel in 2009 after he served as a scout in various capacities. He was an NFL defensive back for six years, playing the New York Giants, Detroit and Cincinnati.

One of his former coaches, Bill Parcells, gave him some advice since his promotion.

''Be yourself,'' White recalled Parcells telling him.

''I know how difficult it is to win there, but I've also won there,'' White said.

White also knows how challenging it will be to keep his job beyond his eight-game tryout, but intends to make the most of his opportunity.

''Everything I do in the next week weeks will be my vision because I'm in charge,'' he said.

Detroit coach Jim Caldwell, whose second year with the team might be his last unless he helps the team close strong, said it was been a ''smooth'' transition since changes were made in the front office. Caldwell believes White's previous roles with the franchise will serve him well with his new job.

''Those guys in their role they do a great job of knowing every player in the league literally,'' Caldwell said. ''Every player that's on the board, every player that's on the roster any team in the National Football League, you can ask him and he's going to have a real settled opinion on it.''



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