The Detroit Lions selected a new head coach on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.
Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp announced the hiring by saying:
“This is an exciting day for our organization as we introduce Dan Campbell as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions. With more than 20 years of experience as both a coach and player in the National Football League, Dan knows the rigors of professional football and what it takes to be successful. He will help promote the culture we want to establish across our organization, while also bringing with him high energy, a respect for the game and an identity with which everyone can align themselves.”
Dan Campbell will be the 30th head coach in franchise history, and his opening press conference was definitely noteworthy.
“We’re gonna kick you in the teeth, and when you punch us back, we’re going to smile at you. And when you knock us down, we’re gonna get up. And on the way up, we’re going to bite a kneecap off.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 21, 2021
Here are 3 cold hard facts about Dan Campbell.
1. He is a former Lions player.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 21, 2021
44 year old Campbell played 10 NFL seasons as a tight end from 1999 to 2008.
A Texas A&M Aggie, Campbell was drafted by the New York Giants in the third round (79th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft.
He played four seasons with Giants, three with the Dallas Cowboys, and his final three seasons were with the Lions.
During his time with the Giants and Cowboys, he played on special teams.
Over his career, he played in 114 regular season games, had 934 receiving yards, and scored 11 touchdowns.
He also appeared in 5 playoff games for the Giants and Cowboys.
“The big thing about him is Dan’s a tough guy now. Dan doesn’t take any bullshit and Dan is a guy that when he practices, he practiced how he played. And he was an overachiever kind of guy, but whenever you watched him do his trade or do his work, whenever he did speak out to his teammates, you had to respect the example he was setting before he talked to you.”
2. He has never held a coordinating position.
In 2010, Campbell joined the Miami Dolphins as a coaching intern.
He became the tight ends coach in 2011, a position he held through 2015.
During the 2015 season, he was also served as the interim head coach following Coach Joe Philbin’s firing on October 5, 2015.
Under his leadership, the Dolphins went 5-7.
He left the Dolphins in 2016 to join the New Orleans Saints where he served as assistant head coach and tight ends coach until being hired by the Lions.
3. He played for and worked with his two coaching mentors.
Campbell played for both of his mentors though very briefly for one of them.
Campbell played under Parcells while with the Cowboys.
Parcells was also working in the Dolphins’ front office when Campbell joined the team.
Campbell wrote a college research paper on Parcells and compared him to his then-Aggie coach R.C. Slocum.
The comparisons were favorable; he later summarized the similarities of the two:
“Just from a philosophy standpoint on how you play the game, offensively and defensively, it was like identical. It’s about running the football. Your quarterback makes smart decisions. You don’t win or lose with the quarterback. Your defense is balls-to-the-wall, all-out.”
Following Campbell’s departure from the Lions in 2008, he signed as a free agent with the Saints in 2009.
He suffered a MCL injury in the preseason which landed him on injured reserve for the entire season.
Though the Saints won the Super Bowl, Campbell did not earn a ring because his tenure was so brief.
But he built a relationship that enabled him to come back to New Orleans as Payton’s assistant head coach.
Dan Campbell inherits a Lions team that has not been to the playoffs since the 2016 season.
His predecessor Matt Patricia, a Bill Belichick disciple, could not turn the team around.
Campbell has a huge challenge on his hands.