The Detroit Lions' division clinching victory over the Minnesota Vikings was a moment 30 years in the making, but it wouldn't have been possible without Dan Campbell's leadership.
Winning the division on the road at Minnesota was certainly a full circle moment for the Lions' head coach. In the postgame locker room, was sure to acknowledge the longest-tenured players on the team in celebrating the accomplishment.
"Whenever you do something like we just did, it's special. It don't matter how many you win, they're special. I can tell you this, when you're part of the organization and it's been 30 years since we won a championship, it's special man. And these guys have been dying for it and waiting for it. It's for you, baby. This first one's for you. The rest of you, keep going. Until then, enjoy it."
Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Tracy Walker were singled out by Campbell as the "old guard", having each been through some tough years in Detroit.
Taylor Decker appreciates payoff of Detroit Lions' struggle
Arguably the biggest symbol of Detroit's past struggles and current success is Decker, who is the longest-tenured Lions' player. The franchise's last playoff berth was in his rookie season (2016).
With that in mind, Decker was an easy choice for postgame podium session.
"It's just a lot of pent up emotion. Just to want to be respected as a team and be looked at as a winner. I've probably cried more (Sunday) than I did my whole career. It's probably the most I've cried. It means a lot to me and you spend so much time putting into it and to be able to have the NFC North championship in return for all the stuff you put in is special and feels good. It makes you appreciate the hard road to get there."
That hard road is also appreciated by Campbell, with his roots as player who was a grinder. The gesture to acknowledge and single out Decker, Ragnow, Reeves-Maybin and Walker is just the latest symbol of the culture Campbell is leading.
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