Here we are.
Just over an hour away from the moment we’ve been waiting for since the Saturday after Thanksgiving. From the moment Detroit Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp held her head in her hands while Deshaun Watson shredded the team she inherited just months before, we were waiting for this moment. Detroit Lions football without the toxic, negative stubborn energy of the previous regime. We no longer have to think about Matt Patricia or Bob Quinn. Those are foreign relic stuck in a time we no longer exist in. They are the past. Today is finally the future.
Dan Campbell was a hire I was initially skeptical of—and some of that skepticism still remains. Admittedly, I was aboard the “genius” coordinator train, fully aware that that strategy produced disastrous results the last time around. When the Lions hired Campbell—a guy with no discernable edge when it came to outscheming an opponent—I was left feeling underwhelmed.
But I tried to remain open-minded. If he was truly just hired for his leadership and communications skills, then someone like that should be able to produce a pretty well-oiled machine around him. And, alas, Campbell appeared to have met that expectation almost immediately. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis assured Lions president Rod Wood that coaches would migrate to Detroit just for the chance to coach alongside Campbell, and he appeared to be telling the truth. Anthony Lynn put off a year away from football to join him. Rising star Aaron Glenn arguably jeopardized his track to a head coaching gig to join a rebuilding team with an incredibly young defense. Duce Staley turned down several opportunities to be a Lion. NFL legends John Dorsey and Dom Capers wanted to be a part of this organization.
And, suddenly, I was all-in. Just about every way this organization is set up is not only unique to Detroit, but something you just don’t see very often anywhere in the NFL. The head coach and general manager are doing joint press conferences. The Lions coaching staff is full of former players living vicariously through the players they’re teaching. The Lions owner finally actually wants to be a part of the team, moving her office closer to everyone, and actually talking with the media occasionally.
Everything feels different. Even uttering the words “everything feels different”—a phrase I’ve undoubtedly used before regarding this team—feels different. I actually kind of believe it.
Sure, it’s going to take time. Sure, I still have my questions about Campbell’s overall philosophy regarding game management and strategy. But so much about this rebuild already makes sense. And maybe just as importantly, this organization is finally full of people I want to actually root for. People who seem legitimately emotionally invested in the success of this Detroit franchise. They know how special this team is to us. They know we don’t want to be fed bullshit lines anymore.
The minute Dan Campbell teared up walking on the same Detroit practice field he had played on over a decade ago, I was all the way in.
Today may suck. The next year or two may be filled with just as many losses—perhaps more—than we’re accustomed to. But for the first time in a while, this feels like my team again, and one with a legitimate chance to turn things around.
Chat about the first half of Lions vs. 49ers below.