If you needed visible evidence of how much Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell cares about his players, and why they would run through a proverbial wall for him, there's this clip from the "Monday Night Football" pregame show a few weeks ago where he talked about the players on the 2021 Lions.
"We didn’t quite have the horses we’ve got now, but those guys, talk about laying it on the line and going toe-to-toe with anybody and willing to fight to the end. I’ll never forget those guys.”
"I just... I appreciate guys that lay it on the line,” Campbell said. “Maybe you’re outnumbered, maybe you’re not the most talented and maybe the odds are against you and nobody believes in you, and I respect the hell out of those guys that’ll fight."
A former NFL player himself of course, Campbell smartly assembled a coaching staff filled with former players-Aaron Glenn, Antwaan Randle El, Mark Brunell, Hank Fraley, Scottie Montgomery (before him Duce Staley), Dre Bly, etc.. Coaches who went through it in the NFL themselves can relate to players on that level in a way someone who's not a former player might not be able to.
Dan Campbell unsurprisingly lands among coaches players would most want to play for
The Athletic (subscription required) came out with their annual anonymous NFL player poll this week, surveying 85 players on a variety of topics. It's no surprise Lions' defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson was voted the biggest trash talker, with nearly 25 percent of the responses. Quarterback Jared Goff also got some votes for best player.
On the question of "Which current coach, aside from your own, would you most want to play for?, Campbell came in fourth with 8.3 percent of the votes.
Mike Tomlin-26.4 percent
Mike McDaniel-14.6 percent
Andy Reid-10.4 percent
"I appreciate coaches that are players’ coaches and get the best out of their players,” one anonymous player told The Athletic.
Frankly, it's a little surprising Campbell didn't get a higher share of the vote. But to come in only behind Tomlin, McDaniel and Reid, three of the most well-regarded head coaches in the league, is pretty nice.
Regardless of the source, the Lions are currently in the top-10 for 2024 salary cap space. There are two big contract situations looming, Goff and guard Jonah Jackson, but otherwise they will have money to spend.
And players around the league, definitely beyond those The Athletic surveyed and surely including some looming free agents, want to come to Detroit and play for Campbell.