Dan Campbell: NFL “Frowns On” Idea to Have Pet Lion on Sidelines

Campbell said Detroit owner Sheila Ford Hamp is into his idea

Head coach Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions.
Dan Campbell still wants to have a pet lion in Detroit
Rey Del Rio/Getty

Entering his third year as the coach of one of last season’s most surprising teams, Detroit Lions’ Dan Campbell is still talking about an idea he had before he coached a single down in Motown. After the 47-year-old was hired prior to the 2021 season, he told the hosts of Pardon My Take that he had pitched the idea of getting a pet lion to keep at the team’s Allen Park practice facility and that Detroit owner Sheila Ford Hamp was on board with the idea.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it, but I would love to literally just have a pet lion,” Campbell said. “Just a legit pet lion on a chain, a big ass chain, and he really is my pet. We just walk around the building, we go out to practice, we’re at seven-on-seven, we’re behind the kicker when he’s kicking…I mean, think about it. It’d be outstanding. The problem, I don’t know if PETA’s going to allow that. Even though we would take great care of it.” 

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To the surprise of no one, a live pet lion did not show up at practice or training camp in Allen Park during Campbell’s first two seasons in Detroit, during which time the team compiled a fairly surprising 12-21-1 record. With the start of his third season rapidly approaching, Campbell is once again raising the possibility of having a live lion around the team, but this time he said he wants to have the predatory pet on the sidelines at Detroit’s games. And, as she did two offseasons ago, Ford Hamp supported Campbell’s idea. The league, however, and possibly NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, did not.

“Sheila, she had no problem with it, but the league apparently frowns on those types of things,” Campbell said. “I’m not gonna point out Roger on this, I’m just gonna say the league frowns on that, let’s just say that.”

A live lion roaming Detroit’s sideline, snarling at officials and opponents alongside Campbell would have made for some fascinating television, but there’s no way it’s going to happen. That’s life in the No Fun League.

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