Dan Campbell’s ‘football should be fun’ edict ages well 1 year later

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It’s been one full year since Lions head coach Dan Campbell offered up the statement, “Football should be fun.”

A seemingly self-obvious statement, yet football was absolutely not fun for anyone in Detroit in the preceding years. The losses mounted, the players who were fun to watch kept getting exiled away and the tone around the team was essentially a dark cloud with no silver lining. Banishing the darkness that was Matt Patricia, Bob Quinn and the “Patriot Way” was a start, but bringing in a relatively unknown commodity like Campbell to lead the on-field product didn’t exactly blow the clouds away immediately.

Campbell made sure the players felt respected and empowered. He brought in coaches who were former players themselves and understand the grind of the game. The easiest way to avoid the grind is by having fun. And that’s what the Lions have done in the last year.

It was evident from the rookie minicamp last May. The players were encouraged to socialize, interact with one another, talk a little smack, to smile and get excited after a good play. None of that was present in the dark days. Fun was frowned upon and it showed in both the standings and the locker room.

Even though the 3-13-1 record from Campbell’s first season is nowhere close to good enough, the undertalented and injury-ravaged roster played their tails off. They celebrated the good plays and the victories. Even in defeat, the games were largely entertaining and engaging.

It will be a lot more fun when the team is competing for postseason victories, hopefully in the near future. But Campbell and his staff have already banished the boring, moribund Lions of the past regime to nothing more than dark memories of pathetic apathy.

Thanks for being true to your words, coach. It means a lot to Detroit.