New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell in a passionate, moving, intense and sometimes funny hour-long press conference made his way through talking about biting kneecaps to greet tourists with reference to “The Big Lebowski” as he introduced himself to his new town and his new team.
If there were any questions about the kind of passion Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood were looking for in their next head coach, it was evident from the moment Campbell stepped on the microphone. until the moment he left it.
Campbell gave a 19-minute opening statement, provided straightforward answers on a multitude of topics, and voiced exactly the type of team he wanted – a team that mirrors the city he once played for.
“This place was hit. It was beaten. It was bruised. And I could sit here and give you a coaching speech all day,” Campbell said Thursday. “I can tell you, ‘Hey, we’re going to win this weekend.’ None of it matters, and you don’t want to hear it anyway.
“Here’s what I know. This team is going to take on the identity of this city and this city has been down and they’ve found a way to get back on their feet. They’ve found a way to overcome adversity, right? not? So this team is going to be built on, we’re going to kick you in the teeth, right? And when you hit us back, we’ll smile at you. And when you knock us out, we’ll get up and on the up we’re going to bite one kneecap. Okay? And we’re going to get up and it’ll take two more punches to knock us out. And on the way up we’re going to take your other kneecap and we’re going to stand up and it’s going to take three hits to knock us out. bring us down And when we do, we’ll take another piece from you.
“Before long we will be the last ones standing. It’s going to be the mentality.
Campbell’s message for the passion he wants his team to play and train with was clear. He admitted that part of what he was selling on Thursday was land for potential free agents to come to Detroit.
It was also the first time that one of Campbell’s new players had heard him speak, so he wanted the message to reach them.
Campbell also showed his humor, starting his introduction by joking that he ended up in Detroit telling his agent, Rick Smith, to make sure the Lions thought they were meeting the Iowa State coach. and hopeful NFL coach Matt Campbell.
And Campbell acknowledged his resemblance to the character The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski”, saying he had heard the comparison before but “the hair is not like it used to be.”
The Lions have clearly adopted the reference to “The Big Lebowski,” identifying Campbell as “Head Coach / The Dude” on the nameplate hanging outside his office.
– Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 21, 2021
Campbell said after the press conference that he would switch from his costume to team gear and get down to business, which he did shortly thereafter. A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Campbell and the Lions have hired New Orleans Saints assistant Aaron Glenn as Detroit’s new defensive coordinator.
Campbell had mentioned Glenn during the squeeze as a candidate he hoped to join him in Detroit.
“It’s no secret that I spoke to Aaron Glenn about the defensive coordinator,” said Campbell. “I was with him [in New Orleans]. He is someone who certainly interests me. But I’m working on it. “
It was this combination of things that sold Ford Hamp and Wood. In the research, Wood said the Lions look for four main criteria: “A leader of men, someone who could command the room and the attention of the whole team; the temperament to handle the work of a season. of the NFL, dealing with loss, injury and outside distractions; a positive voice for the entire organization with the media, the league, colleges, staff and our fans and the ability to put together a great staff. “
“We’re going to kick you in the teeth, aren’t we? And when you hit us back, we’re going to smile at you. And when you knock us out, we’re going to get up and going up, we’re going to bite. a kneecap. And we’re going to get up and it’s going to take two more hits to knock us out. And on the way up, we’re going to take your other kneecap and we’re going to stand up and it’s going to take three hits to knock us down. And when we do, we let’s take another piece out of you. Before long we’ll be the last ones standing. ”
Lions coach Dan Campbell
Ford Hamp said Campbell sent in a book of his coaching philosophy before their first interview and “literally I read his statement on culture and leadership and it was like he was reading our minds.”
“We’ve got to bring hope back to this town, man,” Campbell said. “I’m ready to do anything. Look, I think, I’m a big minded person on the matter and a lot of you are going to think I’m a little crazy here, but I think you can will it happen in some respect.
“If you’re a really positive thinker, I think positive things can happen to you and those around you to grow from it and they feel your energy.
The former tight end of the NFL understands what he’s getting into with the Lions. He played three seasons at Detroit, including part of the 2008 squad that scored 0-16 – although he admitted on Thursday that he had been injured most of that year and that he had spent time rehabilitating in Texas, so it wasn’t part of the daily life. .
But Campbell, 44, was a player, an assistant, and an interim head coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2015.
Campbell has also spent the last half a decade learning under Sean Payton with the Saints, a man and organization he continually credited upon his introduction and was moved by. So he has an idea of what he believes and how he believes it.
“I think the football team can trigger something big here. But, listen, it’s in my heart what I believe, man,” Campbell said. “Look, I don’t want to sell you something that has been sold to you so many times – trust me, I understand. And I wouldn’t want any of you to jump on board now and be like, ‘I’m sold, I got it 100% ”.
“I wouldn’t expect you to do that. But I’m going to do whatever I can to convince you guys and get our team to convince you guys. Ultimately, I know wins and losing is the only thing that matters. But when I say I want our team to take on this city’s identity, I mean it. “