Aidan Hutchinson named one of NFL's Most Influential: 'Symbol of progress' for Detroit


Reigning Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp didn't make the list. Nor did reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt. Heck, only eight players total cracked Peter King's ranking of the 22 Most Influential People in the NFL this season, and all of them were quarterbacks.

Plus a bonus player 'for a specific reason' who came in at No. 23: Aidan Hutchinson of the Lions.

Yep, more influential than three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. More influential than every GM in the league and every coach not named Sean McVay or Bill Belichick. More influential than every other member of the Lions organization. That's what Hutchinson means to his new team, says King.

"The reason is his importance—symbolically and in Xs-and-Os—to a hungry franchise," King writes. "Hutchinson is a symbol of progress for a franchise that needs one in the worst way. He actually wants to play for the Lions. And the NFL, by putting the Lions on 'Hard Knocks' this summer and awarding the city and the Lions the NFL Draft in 2024, is placing a bet that the Lions won’t be a laughingstock much longer."

A native of Dearborn and a product of Michigan, Hutchinson said "it was Lions all the way" shortly after they drafted him second overall last month.

“It was such an honor to be on that stage to be picked by the Lions," said Hutchinson, who broke Michigan's single-season sack record last year. “The whole draft process, I wanted them to pick me, and I’m so grateful that I went No. 2 to them."

Along with Hutchinson's talent, his desire to be in Detroit places him "at the center" of the potential revival of the NFL's most downtrodden franchise, says King.

"In the end, the Lions’ record (this season) will be more on Jared Goff than Aidan Hutchinson, but this franchise, and this region, needs the player and person that Hutchinson is," King writes.

Make of King's comments what you will. But his belief in Hutchinson is shared by Dan Campbell and the Lions, who called his name so quickly on draft night they drew the ire of the NFL.

"He is a Detroit Lion through and through," said defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. "There is no doubt about that. That’s why I say we deserve this player and this player deserves us also. It’s just a true fit. ... He’s going to come in and change the dynamic of this team just by his presence and the way that he plays. He’s a true fit in every way that we need a player."

Speaking of Glenn, he earned an honorable mention on King's Most Influential list along with Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady after he "impressed at the league’s Accelerator Program to incentivize minority hiring and should get some looks at head-coach jobs next winter."

Glenn, 49, is one of the leading candidates to be the NFL's next Black head coach.

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