| The Detroit News
For most of us, there are regrettable words and actions in our past. But for high-profile public figures, there’s a greater chance of the past resurfacing.
That’s exactly what happened with new Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell. Prior to his hiring being finalized, some 1998 comments from a Texas A&M pep rally made the rounds.
Campbell, then a senior at Texas A&M, was speaking to a estimated crowd of 40,000 ahead of a rivalry game against the University of Texas when he stated, he was proud to attend a university where “men like women and women like men.”
At the time, Texas A&M’s president and athletic director both apologized for the comments, as did Campbell, who told a local newspaper, “I offended some people, and I’m sorry for that. It was heat of the moment. It’s not necessarily that I directed it at anyone.”
During his introductory press conference with the Lions on Thursday, Campbell was asked what he learned from the experience.
“I was 22 years old,” Campbell said. “I made a comment I shouldn’t have made is exactly what it was. At the time I was, ‘Oh, man,’ thought it was something exciting. And I remember I got home and who is now my wife, my fiancée at the time was like, ‘Oh my God, what have you done?’
“She was right, and it slapped me right in the face after I had talked to her,” Campbell said. “Look, I apologized for it and it was something (when) I was young. I wish I wouldn’t have said it, and if I could go back, I wouldn’t have, but here we are. It’s out there and all I can do is apologize for it.”
This offseason, the NFL launched a series of initiatives tied to LGBTQ History Month, including a website, a PSA with former players that have come out, and an assortment of content that aired on the NFL Network.
Campbell being asked to answer for his old comments was reminiscent of former Lions coach Matt Patricia having to address a 1996 indictment for sexual assault that never went to trail shortly after he was hired by the franchise in 2018.
The Lions had missed the indictment during the hiring process, resulting in a more thorough background process during their recent general manager and head coaching searches.
“We did very thorough background checks,” Lions president and CEO Rod Wood said. “Certainly, talked to everybody that we could find that had worked with or coached with or played with the individuals that we were getting serious about. And then we talked directly to each candidate about any item that we wanted to bring up. I think you always are learning from everything, and hopefully we did this process better than we did the last process and it’s going to result in a better result.”