Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell is always good for a sound bite. But on the national level, it’s been what has defined him.
In his introductory press conference in January, Campbell spoke for nearly an hour, but it was his short rant about coaching a resilient team, wrapped in the metaphor of players biting kneecaps, that became the repeatedly replayed moment from that day.
And last week, to show his excitement about being named the grand marshal of the upcoming Detroit Grand Prix, Campbell popped into his virtual press conference wearing a racing helmet.
That drew fresh mockery, including Fox Sports radio host Joy Taylor, who tweeted out a photo of Campbell while writing, “I want better for you Lions fans. That’s all.”
That reaction to those quirky snapshots of Campbell irk Lions general manager Brad Holmes.
“Sometimes, I kind of take a little offense that’s all that’s put out about him all the time,” Holmes told The Detroit News during a sit-down interview this week. “He is incredibly intelligent and smart. …He’s an elite leader, an elite communicator, he has elite presence. He has a lot of special, elite traits, not only as a coach, but as a human being. The way he treats people, you don’t find that all the time.”
Campbell’s personality and genuineness has resonated with Detroit’s players during his first couple months on the job. And as Mickey Loomis, the general manager of the Saints, told Lions president Rod Wood during the interview process, Campbell has managed to lure an impressive coaching staff to work with him in Detroit.
Campbell, not surprisingly to those who have attended the majority or all of his press conferences since joining the Lions, wasn’t the least bit bothered by the national criticism.
“Honestly, I’m not worried about it,” Campbell said. “I get it. Again, my whole thing was it was kind of a joke. The helmet was sitting here. But it was also like, ‘Hey, man, it’s the Detroit Grand Prix. I think that’ll be a pretty cool deal for our people, our fans to see that.’ I think if I’m associated with the Detroit Grand Prix, that’s pretty cool. So that’s really as far as it went. I’m not worried about the criticism.
“I’m going to get criticized either way. That’s what you guys do. That’s what you and everybody outside this world does, and ultimately I’m going to be judged on wins and losses. Again, it was just kind of keeping it light. Those things aren’t going to happen during the season. Right now, I’m just being me. I’m having a good time with it. I hope that answers it.”