Lions star reflects on memorable Dan Campbell introductory news conference

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It’s been over three years since Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell famously vowed during his introductory news conference that his team would be willing to “bite a kneecap off” to get where it wanted to go.

Longtime Lions left tackle Taylor Decker recently reflected on Campbell’s words.

“I loved [the speech],” Decker told ESPN’s Eric Woodyard for a piece published Tuesday. “I thought it was great because he was wearing his heart on his sleeve and he was speaking — especially in hindsight, knowing what I know now — those were like core beliefs to him. Those were things that he truly and deeply believed in and wanted to do. And again, in hindsight, seeing that vision come to fruition is pretty cool, especially because I’m sure there were a lot of people that were like, ‘That’s not the coach we wanted.'”

Decker has played only for the Lions since he entered the league as a 2016 first-round draft pick and, thus, was part of the 2021 squad that finished Campbell’s first season in charge with a record of 3-13-1. Detroit later offered a preview of what was to come when it posted an 8-2 record after Halloween to end the 2022 campaign at 9-8.

“That made us feel like we were getting closer,” Decker said about what the Lions achieved in the second half of Campbell’s second season as head coach. “So, it was turning from ‘Let’s go out here and compete really hard’ to ‘Let’s try to start optimizing this thing and get those 3-4 plays that can make a big difference and really zero in on the details.’ I think [the team] bringing in players where they didn’t have to coach effort was huge for us to be able to do that so quickly.”

In September 2023, the Lions started a season as the betting favorites to win the NFC North title for the first time since the division was formed in 2002. Detroit claimed the division crown with a 12-5 record but ultimately squandered a 24-7 halftime lead en route to suffering a 34-31 defeat against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.

“For however well we played for 60 plays, there’s like five — or however much, I’m just throwing a number — that just didn’t go our way and those were big difference makers,” Decker said about the loss to San Francisco. “… That just makes you go back in the Rolodex of what I could’ve done differently. … As much as it hurts to look back on — and it sucks — but for us, I don’t feel like it was our only shot. I don’t feel that way.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, DraftKings Sportsbook listed the Lions second among the betting favorites at +550 odds to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LIX. Campbell recently acknowledged the Lions are now “the team with the target on our back,” and Decker touched upon that subject during his chat with Woodyard.

“I know it’s gonna be very hard, if not harder, than it was last year because people might do a little extra homework when they’re playing us, but just knowing the character of our locker room, that’s just what we, as a team, want to be about,” Decker explained. “And if you’re not trying to compete for championships, much like me taking pride in what I do, it’s like, ‘what are we doing here?’ This is all about winning.”

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