Sunday marked three years to the day since he was announced as the Detroit Lions' head coach, and Dan Campbell was reflective and grateful when asked about the anniversary after the Divisional Round win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Look, I’ve got a lot of really, really outstanding people around me. Alright? And I’m fortunate. I’m fortunate. It takes a village."
Campbell's introductory press conference was the too-easy subject of mocking, due to his "knee cap biting" comments. But looking back at the video before Campbell spoke that day, owner Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood were very clear about how they felt they had gotten the right guy. Then-new general manager Brad Holmes had some input.
As it turns out, that introductory press conference was the first glimpse of a head coach who would not hesitate to express himself, even to the point of tears in some moments. As a former player who had to work hard to have as long of an NFL career as he had, his approach would easily foster buy-in from players. Theoretically anyway.
As Wood suggested back on Jan. 21, 2021, it turns out assistant coaches (fellow former players themselves) were more than willing to come to Detroit to work under Campbell. In his introductory presser, Campbell made it clear he wanted the Lions' job over any other and it was genuine; not coach-speak.
Now, in Year 3 under Campbell, the Lions are headed to the second NFC Championship Game in franchise history. All the punch lines about Campbell on the day he was introduced are long gone, leaving behind a really good coach leading a good team that looks likely to stay good for a little while.
But the Lions' head coaching search, in the wake of firing Matt Patricia before the 2020 season was over, could have gone a different way. Here are five candidates the Lions are definitely glad they did not choose over Campbell.