The Detroit Lions are officially prepared to begin the Dan Campbell era.
The long-suffering franchise confirmed that Campbell, who has spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach in New Orleans, is the Detroit Lions’ new head coach.
Long before he caught passes alongside Calvin Johnson in Detroit or coached with Sean Payton in New Orleans, Campbell found himself in a sticky situation at Texas A&M. Campbell once had to issue a public apology after making a homophobic comment at a pep rally.
Dan Campbell is the Detroit Lions’ newest head coach
If Matthew Stafford plays one more down with the Detroit Lions, he’ll do so under someone who directly preceded his arrival in 2009.
The Lions hired New Orleans Saints assistant head coach and tight ends coach Dan Campbell as the 28th head coach in franchise history. Campbell replaces Darrell Bevell, the interim head coach who replaced Matt Patricia in November.
Campbell has never been a full-time NFL head coach, although he went 5-7 as the Dolphins’ interim head coach in 2015. A third-round pick in 1999, Campbell primarily served as a blocking tight end who turned 91 catches into 934 yards and 11 touchdowns across 10 NFL seasons.
Campbell spent the 2006-08 seasons in Detroit, although injuries limited him to just three games in his final two years.
Campbell has a lot of work to do in Detroit
No one would ever confuse the Detroit Lions for a successful franchise, even after three playoff berths in the 2010s.
Dan Campbell is tasked with doing what so many others before him failed to do: restore the team to relevance. Detroit hasn’t made the postseason since 2016 and last won a playoff game in January 1992.
Campbell and new general manager Brad Holmes both have plenty of tasks to accomplish in the coming months. The future of longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is under contract for the next two seasons, is atop that list.
Stafford turns 33 on February 7 and has been with the Lions since 2009.
Detroit also has to decide if the team will re-sign talented receiver Kenny Golladay. A Pro Bowl selection in 2019, Golladay caught 20 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns in five games this season as he struggled with injuries.
Dan Campbell had to apologize for a homophobic incident in college
Dan Campbell has a notable issue in his past that he would be wise to address in the coming weeks.
The Detroit Free Press reported that in 1998, Campbell spoke at a Texas A&M pep rally. Campbell was still on the Aggies’ football team and attempted to motivate students, staff, and alumni before a rivalry game against Texas.
Campbell was quoted as saying he was proud to attend a school like Texas A&M where “men like women and women like men.”
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Campbell later issued an apology for those comments.
“I offended some people, and I’m sorry for that. It was heat of the moment. It’s not necessarily that I directed it at anyone.”
Detroit clearly felt comfortable hiring Campbell, and it is worth noting that he did not have any issues linked to hate speech while in the NFL as either a player or coach.
However, the NFL has spent recent years promoting diversity and inclusion. Campbell and the Lions could each benefit by addressing the incident if it comes up and helping to ease any concerns about him making another offensive remark in the future.