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O'HARA: Lions part ways with Sheldon White

Sheldon White is handling his departure from the Lions with the same grace and professionalism he exhibited in a relationship with the franchise that spanned more than a quarter century as a player, scout and front-office executive.

White was relieved of his duties Thursday just short of three months since being promoted to interim general manager in what at the time was the beginning of a sweeping overhaul of the front office.

White confirmed his status in a text message, in which he spoke highly of the team's ownership and front office.

White said in the statement:

"I want to thank the Ford family for allowing me to work with the Detroit Lions for 19 years. My children are true Michiganders.

"I also want to thank Mrs. Ford (Owner Martha Firestone Ford) for giving me the opportunity to be the interim general manager for the last half of the 2015 season. Hopefully, we will carry the momentum from our 6-2 finish into the 2016 season. GO LIONS!!!"


Sheldon White (Photo: Detroit Lions)

White played defensive back for six NFL seasons, including three with the Lions (1990-92). He made one of the biggest plays of the 1991 season, when the Lions posted a 12-4 won-loss record and beat Dallas in the divisional playoff round.

In the final regular-season game at Buffalo, a first-round bye and home-field advantage were on the line. White returned an interception for the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Ultimately, the Lions won the game in overtime on Eddie Murray's field goal to clinch a division title and the valuable bye week.

After retirement as a player, White returned to the Lions in 1997 as their BLESTO scout and quickly worked his way up the personnel ranks. He was noted for his diligence, upbeat personality, eye for talent and ability to communicate with coworkers.

He was named vice-president of pro personnel in 2009 and was in that position when team president Tom Lewand and GM Martin Mayhew were fired on Nov. 5 on the heels of a 45-10 loss to the Chiefs in London that dropped the Lions' record to 1-7.

At his introductory press conference the next week White said he wanted to remain as the full-time GM, saying one way to do that was to win games. The Lions went 6-2 the rest of the way to finish the season with a 7-9 record.

However, that did not save White's job as GM. He was interviewed for the job of full-time GM after the season but was passed over in favor of Bob Quinn, the New England Patriots' director of pro scouting at the time he was hired by the Lions.

Quinn has made numerous changes in his staff since being hired on Jan. 8, making it unlikely that White would remain with the Lions.

White did not indicate what plans he has for the future.

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