Dan Campbell ‘Hard Knocks’ speech to the Lions has come to fruition

USA Today

It’s been over three years since the Detroit Lions tabbed Dan Campbell as the head coach of the team. From the very beginning, people had their doubts. From the fans to the national media, there were a lot of doubters.

Much of it was due to what Campbell would say during his press conferences. Whether it was him referencing the team biting kneecaps or when he wore a racing helmet after being named grand marshal to a local race.

He got bashed again and again and again.

Taking it a step further, the Lions were picked to be on the HBO series Hard Knocks. Being featured on the show before winning anything of significance put Campbell and the Lions in an odd spot. People started to fall in the love with him and all of the speeches and catchphrases. Rightfully so, they were darn good.

One of the most popular speeches from Dan Campbell was the one above from an episode of Hard Knocks. At the time, the biggest takeaway was Campbell saying, “I don’t care if you have one ass cheek and three toes, I will beat your ass.”

No doubt, that’s awesome, but there’s more to it than that.

In addition to saying that, Campbell defined what the word “grit” meant to him. He talked about the distance the team will need to be willing to go. He said, “we’ll go a little longer. We’ll push a little harder. We’ll think a little deeper and little sharper.”

Following up with that, he said, “…normally I’m 100% but I only need 85% to beat you.”

Thinking back to just that, the first thing I thought of was the goal line block from Frank Ragnow against Vita Vea against the Buccaneers. This weekend, Ragnow blocked Vea from his knees while having a sprained knee, sprained ankle and other injuries sustained from the season. Far from 100%, Ragnow only needed 85% or possibly less than that to beat Vea on that specific play and it led to a Craig Reynolds touchdown on 4th and goal.

The more you listen to that specific speech from Dan Campbell, the more you can see the vision he had for a football player on the Detroit Lions. Changing the culture for any coach in any locker room is always tough. However, Campbell seems to have found a way to make it happen in Detroit.

It’s happened much sooner than most people have expected. Much of that is due to the Detroit Lions success this season. Winning the NFC North wasn’t unexpected and winning a playoff game felt somewhat likely for the Lions. Being one game away from the Super Bowl didn’t seem possible but right now, we wait for the Lions matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.

Love them or hate them, this Detroit Lions football team is different. Much of that is due to the locker room buying into their head coach and adapting to the culture he’s helped build. Everything Campbell said in these pep talks is the team the Lions have become.

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