The first-year head coach has six years to figure out how to build a winning club, but his proclivity for delivering a juicy quote for fans everywhere is already gaining him back pages in Detroit.
While most NFL head coaches have moved away from using the microphone to stir up controversy, Campbell has been dropping pipe bombs left and right during his tenure thus far, with the Human Red Bull Energy Drink offering some good ol’ coach speak to get the crowd moving.
Campbell may appear to be a parody of a head coach, but he has a reputation that is tailor-made for the Motor City. There’s probably nothing more eloquent than his quotations to demonstrate this. Play the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” theme song on repeat while you read these for additional humor.
Campbell’s is said to be excellent for the soul, therefore here are some of his best statements to help you nourish your soul:
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Dan Campbell’s best quotes
Let’s start at the beginning: Campbell’s 2015 tenure with the Miami Dolphins.
Following the firing of Joe Philbin, who had gone 1-3 in the team’s first four games, Campbell was named temporary head coach. Campbell touted the merits of energy following a win over the Texans, and said that transferring that energy to an opponent player without touching them resulted in some drops. Or something like that.
“When you guys come out with the level of intensity that we discussed and convey your energy — by the way, they did have some drops. There were numerous drops. ‘You’ve got to catch the ball,’ some could remark. Things like that happen, I’d tell you. You transfer energy without physically touching someone.” – Campbell, Oct. 25, 2015, after the Dolphins’ 44-26 victory over the Texans.
Potential, kinetic, and football energy are the three forms of energy.
Six years after his time with the Saints, Campbell is once again at the helm of a company. This time, he gets his first head-coaching job in the NFL, with the Detroit Lions, where he is tasked with cleaning up the Matt Patricia smell.
Campbell harnessed his inner Vincent Van Gogh and fashioned a gorgeous word painting to inform fans what they can expect from their club moving ahead in an inaugural press conference that will be the stuff of folklore should the Lions turn this thing around — or continue to fizzle.
“We’re going to kick you in the teeth, and if you punch us back, we’ll smile at you. If you knock us down, we’ll get up, and on the way, we’ll bite off your kneecap. We’re going to stand up, and knocking us down will take two more shots. We’re going to take your other kneecap on the way up, and we’re going to get up, and it’ll take three shots to get us down. We’re going to tear another chunk out of you when we get there.” – Campbell, at his press conference on January 21, 2021.
Campbell would probably do the same with a W as Van Gogh did with an ear. After all, he did claim he’d give up an arm for a chance to play in the Super Bowl (more on that later).
The next chapter in the Book of Dan is a little shorter, but it packs a punch.
Campbell outlined what a “True Alpha” is, and how that factors into the dynamics of the Lions leadership group, when speaking about his relationship with general manager Brad Holmes in March.
“So, this is what I’d say… But here’s what I’d say about a true alpha: A true alpha understands when it’s time to give up for the good of the team. And so, one way or another, there have already been a few of instances where it’s like — maybe we don’t — ‘You see it a little more this way, I see it a bit’… we haven’t had a single issue. And we’re not going to have any issues.” On March 2, 2021, Campbell discussed his relationship with GM Brad Holmes.
That’s it, beta men.
Campbell aspires to be the real-life Detroit Lions.
Coaches don’t usually shy away from hiring people who can help them install their scheme or system, but Campbell wanted to go above and above with the Lions in terms of how he intended to implement his culture and mindset change: A lion as a pet.
Campbell remarked on the “Pardon My Take” Podcast that he asked for a pet lion during practice and that he would be happy to have a lion rip his arm off if it meant the Lions would win the Super Bowl.
“Just in general, I’ll tell you what I’d really like to do. I spoke with Sheila (Ford Hamp), the Lions’ owner, about it. I don’t think we’ll be able to achieve it, but I’d love nothing more than to have a pet lion. It’s just a real pet lion on a big-ass chain. And he is, without a doubt, my pet. We simply go around the facility, go to practice, play 7-on-7, and stand behind the kicker when he kicks. We’re simply… there we are.” – Campbell, May 18, 2021, on having a real pet lion at practice.
Panthera leo was unavailable for comment.
Dan Campbell, like Julian in “Big Daddy,” expects his players to clean their own bottoms.
The Lions’ big daddy says he wants players to work for themselves and not have to worry about their hands being held during practice and training camp, but he did it in his own Campbellonian way.
“‘Look, I’m not lugging your toilet paper around,’ I informed them on the first day. I’m not going to wipe your feces. You’re going to have to wipe your own poop. You manage it, and until you prove otherwise, I’ll treat you like men.” – Campbell, July 2, 2021, on his players in practice.
If the Lions’ players can’t figure out what’s going on, you can kiss all aspirations of making the playoffs goodbye.
You’ve heard the adage. You can polish a turd, but it’ll still be a turd at the end of the day.
Campbell must do much more than polish the Lions in Year 1; he must entirely revamp the team’s culture and hope that the team can develop a foundation of long-term success.
That foundation, however, will not be composed of sand, according to Campbell, who claims the team is free of “turds” heading into the 2021 season.
“This is what I said as soon as I stepped in. There were a lot of guys here, and I think (Matt) Patricia and (Bob) Quinn did an excellent job of making sure there were no turds. There aren’t any bad guys. This is how these guys work now. We don’t have any guys who say, “Ah, I’m lazy.” We don’t have any of those guys, which is a good thing. When you walk in and the program hasn’t worked out, that isn’t always the case.” – Campbell’s roster as of August 10, 2021.
We’ll see if the Lions can walk the walk this season and in the future. After all, Campbell has already demonstrated his ability to talk the talk.