The biggest strength of new Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell, excluding his literal strength, is in looking and acting like an Attitude Era pro wrestler, and his introductory presser today emphasized that. This guy is not only here to develop a resilient and motivated football team. No, Campbell is prepared to lead his men to see how many bites it takes to get to a juicy patellar tendon.
Campbell was more than happy to lean into the cliché about Detroit sports teams having to reflect the toughness and determination of the city they represent. Then he took it a step further, and another step, until he sounded like he was hired to coach a roster of extremely persistent zombies:
Here’s what I do know: This team is gonna take on the identity of this city, all right? This city’s been down and it found a way to get up. It’s found a way to overcome adversity. And so this team’s gonna be built on: We’re gonna kick you in the teeth, and when you punch us back we’re gonna smile at you, and when you knock us down, we’re gonna get up, and on the way up we’re gonna bite a kneecap off, and we’re gonna stand up, and then it’s gonna take two more shots to knock us down, and on the way up we’re gonna take your other kneecap, and we’re gonna get up, and then it’s gonna take three shots to get us down, and when we do, we’re gonna take another hunk out of you. Before long, we’re gonna be the last ones standing. That’s gonna be the mentality.
You can go here to watch the entirety of Campbell’s presser, but below is the snippet about gnawing on kneecaps. It’s really something.
Whether Lions players will find Campbell absolutely exhausting after three weeks is to be determined, but the effectiveness of this mindset is completely reliant on them winning games. Yes, every football coach is hired to win games, excluding maybe Adam Gase, but the leash on this kind of organizational philosophy is shorter. What is clear is that the coach’s intensity is genuine, to the point where it’s almost alarming. When the Miami Dolphins fired Joe Philbin and installed Campbell as interim head coach in 2015, the team won its next game over the Tennessee Titans, 38-10. With a hat tip to Ryan Yousefi, watch this postgame speech. Campbell was ready to “fuckin’ bleed” for his players after that victory.
Campbell’s skills can be helpful in maintaining morale over the course of a season, and a lot of football teams have a guy like him somewhere on their payroll. The difference is that they don’t usually make him the head coach.