Lions Coach Dan Campbell Says Former Team Let Player “On a Bender” Practice

Campbell, who went 3-13-1 with Detroit last season, was with the Dolphins from 2010 to 2015

Head coach Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions walks off the field after a win
Head coach Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions walks off the field after a win.
Rey Del Rio/Getty

Detroit coach Dan Campbell, who played tight end in the NFL after being drafted out of Texas A&M in the third round in 1999, is going to get his shot at ingratiating himself to a national audience when the Lions are featured in the next season of HBO’s Hard Knocks at the end of the summer.

If Campbell, who went 3-13-1 last during his first season running things in Detroit, keeps talking and telling the sort of stories he has recently, he should have no problem getting a good deal of attention.

Campbell, who previously served as the assistant head coach and tight ends coach for the New Orleans Saints from 2016 to 2020 and also worked as an assistant coach, tight ends coach and interim head coach for the Dolphins from 2010 to 2015, just told a pretty fascinating tale about his time in Miami that sheds some light on just how much a team will put up with from a player who is producing on the field.

“I remember I had a guy in Miami, god he loved ball,” Campbell told The Detroit Free Press. “He was a dynamic football player, but he came in every day just reeking of alcohol. He was probably on a bender for who knows how long, but god he loved football. He showed up, he didn’t have any M.A.’s [missed assignments], he hustled non-stop, and it’s like, you know what? You’ll find a way to make that guy work. Not saying we want those guys, but he loved ball, and he had success. And he’s still playing today, by the way.”

The 45-year-old was with Miami for so long and NFL rosters are so large that there is no way to even guess about the player he was talking about. Rather than a name, perhaps the bigger takeaway is that this allegation, if true, is just another example of dysfunction with the Dolphins, who are currently the focus of a lawsuit from another former Miami coach.

This isn’t the first time that Campbell has discussed drinking since taking over for the Lions, although his previous chats on the subject had to do with coffee, not booze.

That’s the sort of commentary media members have come to expect from Campbell, who got things started in Detroit with a stellar opening press conference after being introduced as head coach last year.

“It was a little, you know, out there but I got what he meant,” Detroit defensive lineman Michael Brockers said of his coach’s infamous “kneecap” presser. “And that’s what you’ve seen from us this year is like: We’re not gonna give up. We don’t care who you are. We understand that we’re the Detroit Lions and everybody has this stigma about us. But we’re changing and we’re coming for you.”

Hard Knocks should be fun.

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