If there’s an award for NFL Dude of the Year, Dan Campbell says he’s the man for the honor.
That was just one of the many chuckles the Detroit Lions head coach had as a guest in the second half of ESPN’s ManningCast of the Dallas Cowboys-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game on Monday night.
Since the game was getting out of hand — the Cowboys extended their lead to 24-0 in the third quarter during Campbell’s appearance — the famed former NFL quarterbacks and brothers, Eli and Peyton Manning, had plenty of fun with the head coach who narrowly missed qualifying for the postseason in just his second season.
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In fact, Eli asked, while watching the 8-9 Bucs host a playoff game, if watching was bothering him after a 9-8 season.
“I would say it is frustrating, but we’re responsible for that, too.,” Campbell said. “We had our chance, and it was a little too little, too late. If anything, it motivates you, is what it does. It fuels your fire.”
As with many of their guests, the Manning brothers bring up anecdotes from their guests’ past, and Campbell was no exception. As a Texas native, they wondered if Campbell was rooting for the Cowboys. And the Lions coach was quick to point out that while he used to be a Cowboys fan (and player), he’s not rooting for the NFC foe.
The Mannings also tried to see if Campbell would take credit for originating the Gronk spike, pulling up a touchdown celebrations from his days in Dallas and how similar it was for the soon-to-be Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski.
Campbell was also asked about the name tag that was initially put next to his office door in the Allen Park facility. It named him as “Head Coach/The Dude,” an ode to Campbell’s striking resemblance to the Jeff Bridges character in “The Big Lebowski.”
So should Campbell be Coach/Dude of the Year? Naturally, the Lions coach deferred at first.
“It would absolutely be an honor, because there are some really good coaches that deserve that,” Campbell said. “To me, better ones out there than me by the job they did this year. (Giants coach Brian) Daboll would be one of those, he just did a heck of a job. (Jaguars coach) Doug Pederson, I mean I could go down the list there.”
(While both Daboll and Pederson led their teams to playoff victories in their first seasons at the helm, both teams lost to the Lions this season, by the way).
Yes, but are any of those guys “dudes”?
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“Well yeah, if you’re saying like you said it, Eli, truly ‘dude,’ then yeah, I think I should win that,” Campbell said with a laugh.
Among the other highlights for Campbell, aside from him thoroughly representing the Motor City with a Tigers Old English D ball cap, was his commentary on Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, after missing his fourth straight extra point of the night: “He’s just got the shanks a little bit.”
Peyton asked Campbell about what his second season in Detroit was like, especially the 7-2 sprint in the season’s second half.
“It was special,” Campbell said. “It was a special group of guys, a special staff, and those guys just wanted to go to work. We’ve got a lot of young guys, but they bought in. Our FM Brad Holmes did a good job with the draft, and the veterans that we have that we kept, that we re-signed, they’re a huge part of this. … I feel like we’re trending the right way. It was good, it was fun, and we know we’re headed the right place.”
Just before the Mannings wrapped up with Campbell, Eli, never one to pass up taking a shot at his brother, did so asking Campbell about Peyton’s “seance” to life “The Curse of Bobby Layne,” led by actor and Michigan native Jeff Daniels at Ford Field during a recent episode of “Peyton’s Places.”
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“Were you aware of this attempt, or is this the first you heard of a show called ‘Peyton’s Places,” Eli asked.
A while Campbell said he was aware, he did kind of give the “ceremony” some credit.
“Look, I don’t believe in that stuff, but we did start winning,” Campbell said.
And to Campbell’s point, the day the show debuted, the Lions lost to the Dolphins to drop to 2-6. They won seven of nine the rest of the way.
Contact Kirkland Crawford: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @HiKirkHere.