DETROIT – New Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell lit the internet on fire on Thursday after a memorable introductory press conference chock-full of quotes.
Campbell was officially hired by the Lions this week, joining the team after several years as a tight ends coach and assistant head coach with the New Orleans Saints.
Campbell’s fiery entrance caught the attention of the sports world after some, let’s say, unique thoughts about the vision for the team.
“So this team’s going to be built on, we’re going to kick you in the teeth. When you punch us back, we’re going to smile at you, and when you know us down, we’re going to get up and on the way up, we’re going to bite a kneecap off. We’re going to stand up, and it’s gonna take two more shots to knock us down. On the way up, we’re gonna take your other kneecap. Then 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 one standing. That’s gonna be the mentality.”
It was an introductory press conference unlike anything we’ve seen in recent Detroit sports history. These events are usually mundane, predictable, and ultimately not worthy of much news coverage.
Reaction has been mixed from Lions fans and sports pundits, so far. The obvious theme: Can he back up the talk?
ESPN’s Sarah Spain said on “Around the Horn” that Campbell has “3-13 written all over him.” On Detroit sports talk radio, a caller on 97.1 The Ticket said after listening to the presser, “I’ve been looking for a country to go to war with.”
Lions fans took to social media to cheer the high-octane entrance, describing it as “refreshing,” with some taking a more cautious “wait and see” approach.
Some pointed to Campbell performance as evidence of him not being qualified for the job, highlighting the lack of diversity in NFL head coaching ranks.
Been tied up. Just got to my phone. Lots of messages about the Dan Campbell press conference. I click on a link ... first thought: I don’t ever want to hear that a Black coach didn’t interview well. 🤦🏾♂️— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) January 21, 2021
Some sports media, like Pat McAfee, loved the Campbell presser and wanted to tell everyone about it. “I think if you’re a Lions fan, you’re excited about the possibilities.”
If you're a Detroit #Lions fan you are excited about the possibilities of #MCDC— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 21, 2021
& if you're not a Detroit #Lions fan you are excited about the possibilities of #MCDC #PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/qQTwubF40I
Campbell acknowledged his tenure won’t just come with positives. He wants his team to feel every loss and learn from them. But he stressed that he wants the Lions to be a team the city can be proud of. That often hasn’t been the case over recent years.
“We’re gonna be competitive every game,” Campbell said. He said he can’t guarantee wins, but he can guarantee the team will show fight and scratch and claw for victories.
“They’re gonna be something this city’s proud of because they’re gonna take on the identity of this city,” Campbell said.
On Friday, in an interview with NFL Network, Campbell said he didn’t realize his comments had gone so viral but didn’t apologize. “No offense but my message was for our players and our community. I wasn’t speaking to anyone else.”
It was AWESOME having @Lions new HC Dan Campbell on #GMFB today!— GMFB (@gmfb) January 22, 2021
He talks about what it means to rep Detroit, what he will bring to Motown, his favorite @Metallica album, and so much more!
"This place needed hope and I needed to give it to them." pic.twitter.com/frWypqePiQ