Since taking over the historically inept Detroit Lions franchise in 2021, the team has more or less been on the upswing and all of that is culminating in an electric playoff run where the Lions battled their way into the NFC Championship for the first time since their only appearance in 1991.
Obviously it’s the players on the field that earned this, but a lot of credit has to be given to first time head coach Dan Campbell for instilling the grit and fight in this team and making the city believe in their team for the first time since Barry Sanders was running wild.
While Detroit has an uphill battle ahead of them heading into San Francisco next week, we need to recognize just how great of a moment this is and give kudos where they’re due, and I believe there’s no better way to do that than reliving the now iconic first press conference that laid the ground work for what this team has grown into.
He started by trying to make a joke that he pretended to be Matt Campbell (Iowa State’s head coach) in order to get his foot in the door, which admittedly fell a bit flat, and then started thanking some of the people how helped him get to this point in his career. Emotions were high and you can hear him start to well-up while speaking before he hit us with the first of many Dan Campbell lines that we’ve all grown to love.
“I know I’m gonna miss a ton of people, and so, for all of you, man, for all of the ex-players, you know, listen, all those guys in that locker room man, they were unbelievable, and those were the guys, they’re another reason why I’m sitting where I’m at right now.
And I’m actually not sitting I’m standing.”
An overlooked piece of gold…
He then starts to talk about how playing for the Lions got him to know the character of the city and how he’d use that to build the culture of his team.
“I wanted this job, bad, because I knew this community, I played here, alright. Here’s what I know. Just as an overall philosophy, you’re gonna say what’s this team gonna be what’s it not gonna be, here’s what I know.
Okay, I know that Detroit’s made up of great people. Some really good people, alright. This community is strong. This place has been kicked, it’s been battered, it’s been bruised and I can sit up here and give you coach speak all day long. I can give you “Hey we’re gonna win this many games”, I can’t, none of that matters and you guys don’t wanna hear it anyway. You’ve had enough of that shit. Excuse my language.”
Hell yeah, Dan. The passion in his voice and demeanor at this point is palpable but just when you thought you couldn’t love the man any more, he lays down one of the finest mission statements for a football team of all-time.
“Here’s what I do know. This team is going to take on the identity of this city. Alright, and this city’s been down and it found a way to get up, alright, it’s found a way to overcome adversity…
We’re gonna kick you in the teeth. 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, alright, and we’re gonna stand up and 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 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, alright. That’s gonna be the mentality.”
Man, I’ve heard that line so many times but hearing it in context of him building a team that’s actually done what he laid out makes it that much more powerful because it’s not just words; it’s words that led to action.
He kept on rolling with it as well, speaking on the next man up mentality, scratching and clawing for every inch toward victory, and the one for all and all for one brotherhood he played with and would build this team into. He also took responsibility for not only the team, but the city as a whole.
“My job is to make this team better, make it competitive, make it a winner. Look, I can’t guarantee wins but I know this man, my job is also to get this city back on its feet.”
Of course, he threw in a couple more classic MCDC lines like drinking a gallon of coffee a day, being willing to fight with upper management collaboratively while designing the roster, saying that as soon as he was done with the press conference he was ripping off his suit and tie, putting on Lions gear and getting to work, and saying he’s not a system guy but a player guy, who’s going to put his best on the other team’s worst and exploit those matchups.
Gosh man, my hands are tingling and I’ve got a buzz in my spine. I’m not a Lions fan, but for the rest of this year I sure as hell am.
You can watch the whole thing below, Dan starts around the 21:51 mark and it’s well worth the listen.
If you need a bit of juice to get you through the week to Sunday at 6:30 ET, this is it.