TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – His career has pulled him from city to city, but he has not forgotten his roots. Brad Holmes, the new general manager of the Detroit Lions, is calling the shots at the highest level of the sport but still manages to answer when he receives a call from home.
That call arrived in the form of a Zoom meeting on the final Wednesday in February during seventh period at Chamberlain High School.
“As a Black man from Chamberlain,” asked Delio Figueredo, a junior linebacker, “what was the most difficult challenge that you faced and what is something that you constantly remind yourself of whenever things get difficult in order for you to continue being successful?”
Holmes fielded four questions from four players picked by the Chamberlain Chiefs head football coach Jason Lane.
“What he is doing at the top is what we are trying to do at the bottom,” said Lane. “It is a challenging population and what this program has done is chosen to be uncommon as young men and coaches.”
Holmes recognized that trait within minutes of meeting these teens.
“I had to dig deep to answer those questions,” he admitted.
The Lions selected the Chamberlain High School graduate to be their general manager out of a pool of 12 potential candidates in January and, consequently, the players admitted they were nervous talking to him.
“It was like a celebrity,” said Figueredo. “To know that he actually came to this school and we can relate to him in that way, that kind of helped me.”
“It is crazy,” said Chris Wehnart, a junior center. “He was here doing all of the stuff that we do. I started stuttering before I asked my question and, eventually, I just got it out.”
They asked him about his climb to the top hoping to learn how he did it.
“What was your why when deciding to play football?” asked Wehnart.
While Holmes shared his family inspired his passion for the game, Wehnart revealed he dreams of playing in the NFL so he can provide for his parents.
“I always had to work hard for something. It is not easy,” he said. “They support me a lot.”
That support is contagious and it could be seen on the call in the form of a high school football jersey.
“You want to give so much to the game that you live on,” explained Lane. “Holmes was clearly worthy of the honor. We almost made him cry. We tried hard.”
The Chiefs surprised Holmes by retiring his high school number, number 55. They wanted to celebrate a man who is always willing to answer that call from home.
“This is probably one of the best moments in my sports career,” said Holmes.