|January 21, 2021|
Principal Owner and Chairman Sheila Ford Hamp Opening Statement: “Hello again, everybody. Thank you once again for being here. It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen you guys, what, 48 hours I think? Anyways, it’s good to see you again. I really enjoyed getting to speak with you the other day when we introduced Brad Holmes as our new general manager. And today, I want to conclude our search process with the introduction of Dan Campbell as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions.
“As I mentioned the other day, the group we assembled to undertake the search for these two important decisions ultimately resulted in a thorough, comprehensive process that led us to two great people in Brad and Dan.
“Dan Campbell’s accomplished football background is well-documented. Some of you may remember him from his playing days, an 11-year career as a tight end for the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys and of course, here with our Detroit Lions. After getting to know Dan these last few weeks and feeling the passion and respect he carries for this great game, it’s obvious to me that his playing career would ultimately lead him to entering the field of coaching.
“When we met with Dan, it was impressive to learn about his experiences prior to becoming Head Coach. The adversity he overcame as interim head coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2015, through the sustained success he helped cultivate with the New Orleans Saints the last five seasons, all of this has prepared Dan for this next opportunity.
“Dan will be the first to tell you that winning is the only mission, but the way in which he plans to go about that is perhaps the most important. His football philosophy, founded on the principles of competition, identity, toughness, and operating with one heartbeat, is something I look forward to seeing come to light in Dan’s time as our head coach. We are thrilled to welcome him and his family back to our great football city.
“You’ve heard me talk a lot about collaboration and chemistry this week and making sure that everyone in our organization is aligned with the same vision. That is Dan Campbell. As he assembles his coaching staff and works with Brad in evaluating our roster, his commitment to helping drive home our culture will be unwavering. He will be a positive figure in our community, for our loyal fans, for all of you in the media, and for our legends, and what better person to lead this organization than someone who played here between the white lines here in Detroit.
“Dan has a vision, and one that I’m excited to let him share with you in a few minutes. But before we take questions, I will turn it over to Rod Wood for some additional remarks about Dan. I couldn’t be more excited.”
President & CEO Rod Wood Opening Statement: “As I said on Tuesday, I want to continue to thank (Vice President of Football Administration) Mike Disner and (Special Assistant to President/CEO & Chairperson) Chris Spielman for their assistance and guidance through our search process. We were asked on Tuesday, when we had Brad’s (Holmes) press conference about his involvement in the head coaching search. And as I said then, he was supportive and aware of what we were going to end up doing. Once we had settled on Brad, we put him in touch with our finalists. He had numerous phone calls with several coaches, did his own research, and came to the same conclusion that we had, ‘Dan Campbell should be the next head coach of the Detroit Lions.’
“While Dan’s only been in the building for a day, he and Brad are already hard at work on assembling a coaching staff, evaluating our team, preparing for free agency and the Draft. I think you’ll hear more about that from Dan in a minute.
“During Brad’s press conference, I highlighted several of the criteria that we had developed when we were searching for a general manager. A lot of the criteria is similar for our head coaching search – Culture, self-awareness (and) teamwork. But I want to share a few of the specific criteria that we identified in what we were looking for in our next head coach.
“First, a leader of men. Someone who can command the room and the attention of the entire team. The temperament to handle the grind of an NFL season, dealing with losses, injuries, and outside distractions. A positive voice for the entire organization with the media, the League, colleges, staff and our fans, and the ability to assemble an excellent staff. Dan checked every box.
“Also, during our general manager interviews, we were asking each candidate to name head coaches that they would consider as part of their list if they were to make a choice, and Dan showed up on numerous lists with candidates that we talked to.
“I spoke at length with Mickey Loomis, the general manager of the New Orleans Saints, and other members of the Saints’ front office about Dan. Chris spoke to Coach (Sean) Payton, and we also heard from current and former players, staff and coaches that have worked with Dan, and the same feedback came back over, and over, and over. Dan’s a leader and will be an excellent head coach. We’re going to introduce him to you in a few minutes, but before we do, Sheila (Ford Hamp) and I will take a few questions.”
On her first impression of her interview with Head Coach Dan Campbell: (Ford Hamp) “There was kind of another, ‘Wow.’ Not to sound like a broken record, but Dan stood out. I mean, actually, he sent us a book ahead of time with just some of his ideas and philosophies and if he were to become the head coach, what he would do. And literally, I read his statement on culture and leadership and it was like he read our minds. You know, ‘Really? Did someone tell him what to say before?’ He was amazing. And wait until you talk to him, you’ll see what I’m saying. He stood out, he still stands out. It’s amazingly exciting. He’s terrific.”
On how attractive it was that Campbell was a former NFL player: (Ford Hamp) “It’s obvious that Dan – I think the players are just going to love him. They’ll respect him. He played. I think his presence in the locker room is going to be incredible, and I think having played the game does make a difference. I think players will respect what he’s saying because they know that he’s been there, and he’s done it. So, yes, I think it’s definitely a positive, positive factor.”
(Wood) “I would echo that, and I think in addition to all of that, the fact that he played here, and he wanted to be a Detroit Lion.”
On why she’s confident the pairing of Campbell and Executive Vice President and General Manager Brad Holmes will work: (Ford Hamp) “All I can say is I’m confident we have two terrific men. They’re both incredibly smart, articulate in what they’re looking for and our team. They’re both winners. I think they speak the same language, and I think it’s going to be an awesome relationship. It already is, and they hadn’t really known each other. I think this is going to be just great. Really great.”
(Wood) “I would just say, as I said in my opening comments, we did have Brad involved, kind of behind the scenes, in this. So, his voice was listened to, and I would say it was impactful when he came to the same conclusion that we did that Dan should be our head coach. It may have been an odd process, but I think it resulted in an outstanding result.”
On if the team offered a contract to Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell before hiring Dan Campbell and how interested the team was in college coaches: (Wood) “I’m not going to comment on any college coaches. I think we talked to a couple of you about that out of respect for their current position and recruiting. I’m not going to say whether we interviewed a college coach or whether we didn’t or whether we extended an offer. I’ll just leave it at, ‘No comment,’ on any college coaches.”
On what Campbell shared about building a staff and working around any of his own weaknesses: (Wood) “First of all, he listed the types of coaches and the specific coaches that he would be interested in assembling on his staff. I think in addition to that, maybe the most impactful thing to me was when I talked to (New Orleans Saints General Manager) Mickey Loomis. I asked Mickey about that, and he said, ‘Dan is the kind of head coach that coaches are going to run to Detroit and want to be on his staff.’ He will attract people because they’ll want to work with him.”
(Ford Hamp) “I think Dan is, as I mentioned, extremely smart. He knows, I think – very smart people realize their weaknesses and where they need to fill in. Dan knows that he wants to get strong coordinators and he’s going to.”
On why the team extended a reported six-year contract to Campbell: (Wood) “I’m not going to comment on Dan’s contract or anybody else’s contract. I know there’s speculation out there about it, but I’m not going to confirm nor deny how long the contract is. That’s a private matter between Dan and the Lions. I’m not going to comment on the length of it.”
On what attracted the team to interview three candidates from the New Orleans Saints organization during this hiring cycle: (Wood) “We weren’t necessarily attracted to the Saints organization, we were attracted to the individuals who worked there, and we heard great things about each of them individually. Obviously, their success recently speaks for itself, and all three of those individuals were part of that success. But we were more interested in the individuals as opposed to going to one particular organization. I will tell you in the interviews with the two general manager candidates, their first choice for head coach if they were to be our general manager was Dan Campbell.”
(Ford Hamp) “I’d just like to add, Rod’s right. We weren’t targeting New Orleans as an organization to go after their people. We went after or wanted to interview the best people we thought for the job. But I must say, after interviewing the two general manager candidates and Dan, a lot of respect for the New Orleans organization. I mean, they really do things well and they obviously have terrific people.”
On what was attractive about Campbell returning to the organization after having a playing career with the team: (Ford Hamp) “Well, I’ll let Dan tell you himself because he can tell you in no uncertain words how much he loved Detroit. He loved being here, his family. He said he admits when he was coming here in the first place, he wasn’t too sure. But then once he got here, he said it’s the best place he’s ever been. He just loves it, and he really, really wants to be here, which is so exciting. I think he really understands the city, he understands our fans, he’s going to understand you guys and all the things we’ve been through and he’s determined to bring us all a winner and a new pride for Detroit.”
On how the team built out their initial list of candidates: (Wood) “We’ve been accumulating names for both general managers and head coaches and then doing a lot of external double-checking of our names with any number of people – teams, people at the League office, members of the media, coaches, etc. We kept refining the list and restacking it, I think I said that the other day, to determine who were the top candidates. And then as we got into the interviews, we were asking every candidate, ‘Who do you see as a head coach you can work with, and who do you see as a general manager you can work with?’ And a lot of the same names kept coming up, and they were the names that were on our list. So, the process just kept getting more and more refined and better and better as we went along, and it led us to the two gentlemen that are joining the organization this week.”
(Ford Hamp) “I’d also say that we had our list. As Rod said, the list kept getting refined and changed. That was partially because we had eventually Chris (Spielman) and Mike Disner (who), (who) did a lot of research on the candidates. So, we knew a lot about these guys before we even got to the Zoom call. A lot of cross-referencing, a lot of just checking with colleagues of theirs. It wasn’t just like, ‘Oh, here’s a blind list. We’re going after it.’ There was a lot that went into it in the front end, which I think made our process great. When I talked the other day about on the very front end, we talked about exactly what we were looking for. We have a signed piece of paper that we all signed that said the characteristics of leadership, culture-builder, etc. All the work we did on the front end, I think, really paid off in the end.”
On what the team learned about the background check process from the last hiring cycle and if they did anything different this time: (Wood) “Obviously, I know what you’re getting at. I’m not going to comment on what happened with Matt (Patricia). We did very thorough background checks. Certainly, talked to everybody that we could find that had worked with or coached with or played with the individuals that we were getting serious about. And then we talked directly to each candidate about any item that we wanted to bring up. I think you always are learning from everything, and hopefully we did this process better than we did the last process and it’s going to result in a better result.”
On the team’s rift with former WR Calvin Johnson and if there are plans to repair it: (Ford Hamp) “Well, I’m not going to go into the money issue, but I hope we can repair things with Calvin Johnson. He was obviously an amazing player for us. We’re going to continue to reach out to him and hope that we can repair things because I think it’s important that he comes back into the Lions family. We’d love if he could, if he will. We are 100 percent behind him for his Hall of Fame ballot and hope he gets it this time. He was a great, great player and a terrific person and we’d love to have him back with us and working with us and helping us with everything.”
On Fritz Pollard Alliance Executive Director Rod Graves saying there isn’t enough diversity among NFL head coaches: (Ford Hamp) “Well, I can’t really comment on what other teams have done or not done. I think when you’re looking for a coach, you’re looking for the best candidates or the best fit for your organization. I think everyone goes in colorblind, honestly. I do think the League, and I think everyone’s aware, can do a better job of creating a pipeline and teaching and developing and working with diverse candidates. I think it’s something the League can do a lot better at. I think everyone’s aware of it and trying hard. It is kind of what it is right now.”
(Wood) “I would just say I understand the question. Rod was part of our process. We were consulting with him throughout our process. I would say to Rod Graves’ credit, he will give you very candid feedback about every candidate regardless of whether they’re a diverse candidate or not. We took his counsel and obviously we were trying to find the best two people for our organization, and I’m very confident that we did.”
Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell Opening Statement: “Hello, everybody. I’m excited to be here, beyond belief. What I’m going to have to do is make sure that I contain myself, so you may get a couple things where I’m completely out of the screen because I’m moving. I’ll do my best. But I’ll say this first, just in regards to the head coach search, how I ended up here, one of the things would be that I told my agent, Rick Smith, ‘Make sure that they think I’m Matt Campbell.’ So, I think that’s how this has really worked great for me. So now that I’m in the seat, I am Dan Campbell. But I do know this, you can’t go wrong with a Campbell.
“Listen, I need to thank a lot of people here first. I’m excited to be here beyond belief. I’m excited. This is one of those jobs that I identified. I told my agent, ‘Whatever you have to do to get me in front of Sheila (Ford Hamp, Principal Owner and Chairman) and Rod (Wood, President & CEO), please do.’ When this became available – because I played here, I know the city. I know what it’s about. I know the people. It’s a special community, it’s a special place. I’m going to get into that more here in a minute. I have to thank a lot of people, OK? First and foremost, my wife, Holly. We’ve been married for over 20 years. She’s been my rock, man. She’s moved with me, she tells me exactly how it is – in a good way – well not always in a good way, but my point is, she’s going to let me know exactly what she thinks, and that’s a good thing. My kids, my son, Cody, my daughter, Piper – they’ve moved and acclimated and they’ve been my biggest supporters. I have to thank them first.
“I’ve been influenced by a number of people. R.C. Slocum was my college coach. He was phenomenal. I learned so many tools of the game, learned how to respect the game, situations of the game. Bill Parcells, certainly, was a huge influence on me. The way that he teaches you to dive into the game, but more importantly, what makes a player tick, how do you get the most out of a player, and I’m forever indebted to him. I had a tight end coach at the New York Giants named Mike Pope, who honestly probably taught me more about the game than anybody did at any given time. He taught me offensive football from the quarterback standpoint, all the way to the run game. (The) late, great Tony Sparano, he was my tight end coach at Dallas, and then took me under his wing in Miami as a coach. I’m forever grateful for him. Look, there’s a number of people that I’m going to miss, but I want to make sure I highlight some of these. But last but certainly not least – when you start talking about the New Orleans family that I just came from – listen, all those guys that I was on this offensive staff, man, I owe them everything because we all put in the work and we all worked together. I was the man who – I drew the lucky straw. Dan Roushar, our O-line coach, Joel Thomas, running backs coach, Pete Carmichael, the OC (offensive coordinator), Joe Lombardi, quarterback coach, ‘RC’ (Ronald Curry), my receivers coach, D.J. (Williams, offensive assistant), he’s working with quarterbacks, Declan (Doyle, offensive assistant), he was kind of under me – so all these guys, man – Brendan Nugent, O-line – we put in the work. You talk about a compatible unit, not just talking about us offensively, not to mention the defensive staff, you talk about a working environment, it was phenomenal. That’s what I want to create here. It’s just a bunch of guys, they want to better themselves, they want to learn from the game, they want to learn about the game, but they want to grow together, and one man’s strength is another man’s weakness and vice versa. We know how to cover for each other.
“Sean (Payton) is a big believer in compatibility is more important than coachability. I get it, you get it – the point is compatibility is important. It’s highly important. It doesn’t matter – you can put the best coaches in the room, and if they’re all a bunch of alphas, and they’re trying to eat each other alive, you’re never going to get anything done. I’m very conscious of those things. (Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager) Mickey Loomis was phenomenal to me. He was always a sounding board for me. He was excellent. He was a man that – he knew how to play off of Sean Payton. He did. Those two working together – that’s the model for how Brad (Holmes, Executive Vice President and General Manager) and I are going to work together, in my opinion. It’s a collaborative effort; it’s give-and-take. But listen, it’s been proven to work.
“Last but not least, Sean Payton. I owe Sean probably more than anybody in this profession. He gave me an opportunity as a player and as a coach, and nobody’s believed in me more than Sean Payton, who knew exactly what I was and what I could do. Sean was always about, give me a player that I know exactly who he is, and what he is going to be every day, and I can do something with that guy. It’s the guys who are up and down, and the ones that spike here and all of a sudden, they’re down – I don’t know what to do with those guys. I got nothing for them. But if you give me a guy that I know who he’s going to be every day and what he can do, and we can work with that guy. So I’ll never be able to thank him enough. I’ve learned more football under him as my time as a player, but now as a coach, being under him five years, about how you see the game, how you use your staff, how you hire your staff, situational football, when to go for it, when to not, when’s it time to be aggressive, when’s the time to back off. But a majority of the lessons that I have are from him, so I’ll forever be grateful for that.
“I know I’m going to miss a ton of people, and so, to all of you, all the ex-players – all those guys in that locker room, they were unbelievable. Those are the guys – there’s another reason why I’m sitting where I’m at right now, and I’m actually not sitting, I’m standing. They are the reason why. I’m talking about a great group of guys, good character, but man, you’re talking about some ballers, and guys that were willing to lay it on the line for each other, and that’s how you win games.
“So let me go back, let me start here again. I wanted this job – bad – because I felt like I knew this community. I played here. Here’s what I know, just as an overall philosophy – you’re going to say, ‘Well what’s the team going to be, what’s it not going to be?’ Here’s what I know, all right? I know that Detroit is made up of great people, some really good people. This community is strong. This place has been kicked, it’s been battered, it’s been bruised, and I can sit up here and give you coach-speak all day long. I can give you, ‘Hey, we’re going to win this many games.’ None of that matters, and you guys don’t want to hear it anyway. You’ve had enough of that shit. Excuse my language. All right, here’s what I do know, is that this team is going to take on the identity of this city. This city has been down, and it found a way to get up. It’s found a way to overcome adversity. So this team is going to be built on – we’re going to kick you in the teeth, and when you punch us back, we’re going to smile at you, and when you knock us down, we’re going to get up. On the way up, we’re going to bite a knee cap off, all right, and we’re going to stand up, and then it’s going to take two more shots to knock us down. And on the way up, we’re going to take your other knee cap, and we’re going to get up and it’s going to take three shots to take us down. When we do, we’re going to take another hunk out of you. Before long, we’re going to be the last one standing. That’s going to be the mentality, darn it. We’re going to learn that any loss that we take, we’re going to make sure that we feel the full pain of it and not grow numb to it and learn from it and not to want to taste it again. We’re going to be competitive in every game. I can’t sit up here and guarantee wins and losses. I just can’t do it.
“I’ll guarantee you this: These guys are going to fight, and they’re going to scratch and claw, and they’re going to be something this city’s proud of because they’re going to take on the identity of this city. The ones that have to learn – it’s not always going to be roses up here. It’s not always going to be the way we wall want it to be and look perfect. But I know this, we’re going to fight. We’re going to scratch and we’re going to claw. I know that good teams find a way to get it done, and if somebody goes down, the next one steps up, and he’s expected to produce enough to help those guys next to him win. These guys are going to learn to play together, play for one another. I’m not going to ask these guys to do anything that I never had to do or never asked somebody else to do or for that matter as coaches. I’m going to find the right staff. I’m going to find a staff that’s not loaded with just a bunch of people that look good on paper. I am scouring – I was going to say the country, but even beyond the country, if you will. I’m looking for the best coaches I can find for the best spot. There’s great coaches out there, you just have to find them. But I want exactly what I said earlier about – Sean’s (Payton) comment was about, you’re looking for compatibility. Here’s the other thing that Sean always used to say when it came to the roster, but it comes with the people around you as well, and that is, it’s not about the best 53, it’s about the right 53. I think that way as a staff.
“This opportunity was given to me from Rod (Wood) and Sheila (Ford Hamp) and then the Ford family – Mrs. (Martha Firestone) Ford, Martha (Ford Morse), Bill (Clay Ford Jr.), Elizabeth (Ford Kontulis) – I got to meet them yesterday, and they all want the same thing. They just want a winner, like you guys do, and our players do. I want to help give that to them just like we all do. Listen, I didn’t know Brad (Holmes) before I got here. I did my homework, no different than he did. We had a lot of mutual contacts, and I didn’t hear one bad word about Brad. I’ve been in contact with him for a while. We left here almost midnight last night. We’ve been going through everything. I told him this, I said, ‘Listen, I’m not going to make a hire without you approving it.’ And I don’t have to do that, and he’s basically said the same thing to me. I could find the best coach in the world and feel great about it, and if I go to Brad, and Brad’s like, ‘There’s just something about this guy, I don’t know.’ He’s going to make me think twice about doing it because that’s how I want it to be. He and I are tied to the hip. This guy – he’s unbelievable. You want to talk about vision? We see the game very much the same way. We see players very much the same way. Last night we were talking – I don’t know. We finished each other’s sentences twice, one of them was about vision. More importantly, we’re not in the business of just stacking players. Let’s find a vision for this guy because when you find a vision for a guy, now you know how to play him and how to put him in your system. It could be the most athletic guy in the world, but if you don’t have a vision for him, what are you going to do with him? So, I think that’s important. Our relationship, man, up to this point, has been outstanding.
“(Special Assistant to President/CEO and Chairperson) Chris Spielman – I know there’s been a lot of – what is Chris, what’s Chris doing. Chris has been an outstanding resource for me and for Brad and for everybody. He’s been – even yesterday he came in, he (said), ‘Dan, listen. This is your show. What can I do? Can I help you? Is there somebody I could run down for you? Is there a coach you want me to call just to vet?’ It’s been nothing but a working relationship. He’s been a resource. He’s played in this league. He was an excellent player, and he has excellent instincts, as well. He’s a resource, that’s what he is. You want to talk about a team guy? He’s in the same mold as we are. You want to change the culture of the team that gets thrown around? It starts at the top. Sheila (Ford) Hamp – that’s where it starts. I was sold within 10 minutes of my interview with her. She is a genuine soul. She wants to win. She is heartfelt, she is humble, and all I want to do is give her success. That’s what I want to do, I want her to succeed. I don’t want to let her down, no different than anyone here.
“(Vice President of Football Administration) Mike Disner has been excellent. He’s been working (salary) cap and doing these things and helping us with, you know, working through coaches and talking to coaches. So the support staff here is unbelievable. Just to go back, I know I’m a little scattered here, but it starts at the top. Rod has been unbelievable. Rod has already said, ‘Listen here’s the information, Dan. Take with it what you want. It’s your decision. It’s your decision. What do you want to do with it? Nobody is dictating anything here.’ But we’re getting the best information that we can get. Here’s what I know about winning teams: When it starts at the top, and it works its way down, and it goes right into the locker room. When it’s functional up top, and it’s flowing, man, and we’re efficient and we’re moving and everybody knows there’s one voice, those guys feel it and that’s how they play. They have pride in what they’re a part of, no different than anybody in this organization. That’s why I’m here; that’s why I’m with these people – that and the fact that I put ‘Matt’ down as my name instead of Dan.
“There’s no secret, you have to get good people around you, who are all pulling in the same direction. It’s team. It’s all about team. There’s no ego. Brad and I are going to have – we both have say on the 53-man roster. We have to agree. So, we’re going to go in a room, and we’re just going to fight until one of us comes up. We’ll see what happens – no. We are going to collaborate. We are going to come up with the best answer, the best solution. What can we do with this guy – is it for the future, is it for now? That’s not even a problem – I want it that way. I want people to challenge me on an idea. I don’t want to have a bunch of people that agree with everything that I say – that’s a recipe for disaster. I don’t want a bunch of people who drink a gallon of coffee like I do in a day. You find the right mix and the right balance of people. I know this, when it starts at the top and it’s right, then it’ll go down, it’ll trickle down to where it’s supposed to. Those guys are going to have pride in where there are, who they play for, how they’re going to play. You’d say more times than not, that leads to success, and there’s only one way to do it, and it’s to do it the right way. That’s the other thing that intrigued me about Sheila, she wants to win bad, but she’s not going to sell her soul to the devil to do it, neither am I.
“I learned a lot in my time at Miami. I know these questions are going to come up, but listen, I got through the lumps of a season as a head coach. I was able to go through 12 games. You go through the game management, you have disruption on the sidelines, to when to use timeouts, what players are going in, who are the 46 that are going to be up on gameday, this coach isn’t playing this player enough, he only played 10 plays or five plays. So, you’re going through all these things I wasn’t ready for. I wasn’t because I have never been in that situation, in that role, and I’ve been through those lumps. So, I have some experience. Is it a ton? No, but I do. So at least I’m past that point and now, we can build this the way that we want it. I can start from scratch with Brad (Holmes). Last night, we looked at each other like you know what, we can do this the way that we want to do this. The right way. He came from a winning program, no different than I did. We’ve seen success, we know what it looks like. We have the right people in place here to get it done. Our facilities are outstanding. These are outstanding! Maybe I’m recruiting free agents right now, who knows, right? You never know. But I’m serious. We have top-notch facilities. They spared no expense to make sure that the players had everything that they need to have success and to recover and use anything as a resource to become better players. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.
“My job is to make this team better, make it competitive, make it a winner. Look, I can’t guarantee wins, but I know this, man, my job is also to get this city back on its feet. I can say all I want to do – everything about – man, this is what – I get it. I don’t blame you, fans, one bit, I get it. You’ve seen – there’s no telling how many of these press conferences you’ve seen. I’m not going to stand up here and give you coach-speak. But I’m going to tell you this, this team is going to freakin’ take on your identity. There’s been enough hard times here, and you’ve always found a way back up. This team is freaking going to do the same thing. Every time we get hit; we’re going to get back up stronger – that’s what I do know. I’m going to put the right coordinators in place. I’m going to put the right staff together with those coordinators. They are going to be the right mix, the right balance, that complement who I am and know how to deliver the message. Brad and I are going to be tight at the hip. We are going to make sure that we see everything, with our coordinators, as to how we see this team looking. What is the shape of this roster? How do we see these (players)? What is the length of our outside linebackers? Where do we see our tackles, our guards, the girth? What about our speed on the outside? What about our backups? Everything is going to be in-line. We’re not going to agree on everything, but I can tell you this, just knowing this man for the time I’ve known him, and vetting him myself, he’s exactly like I am. He wants the same things I do. He’s no different than me. When things go hard, you’re going to see me stand up, when they go good, I want to just fall to the wayside. He’s no different than that.
“I wanted to be here. I think this is a special place. I think this is special because I know when we bring a winner to this city, it’s going to be something we can all be proud of. Any questions?”
On the status of his coordinator hires: “Well, I was actually getting ready to hire two guys and then I had to come do this press conference. So I think – that’s a joke. I’m working through it right now. I’ve certainly talked to a number of people. I probably already interviewed four coordinators on both sides of the ball. Look, it’s no secret that I’ve talked to Aaron Glenn about defensive coordinator, I was with him (in New Orleans), but he’s certainly somebody I’m interested in. I’m working through that. As soon as I get out of here, I’m taking this jacket and this tie off, I’m putting on my Lions gear, and I’m going to work. I’m going to be on the phone. I’m going to be on my laptop, and we’re going to be going.”
On how being a former player has shaped his coaching style: “For example, I understand – let’s just take this for example. Something in the run game, not that I was the best athlete in the world, but I think I have a realistic viewpoint of what somebody can do and can’t. For example, if you’re on the back side, and you have a back side cutoff, and you’re my right tackle and we’re going to ask you to try to cut off a two high – it’s like, this is ridiculous. This isn’t really feasible. You’re trying to do some of these things that are – so I think if you’re not careful, you’re asking guys to do things that even though they’re phenomenally talented, it could be impossible. I think a lot of it is who you’re playing. I think that there’s so many things about this game to where it’s a bout matchups. Look, somebody is going to get into this, and I know it’s going to be the next question, you want to know about X’s and O’s and what’s my philosophy. Here’s my philosophy on offense and defense, for that matter: We’re going to run a system that puts our best on your worst. That’s what we’re going to do because that’s what we did in New Orleans. We’re going to find a way to put our guys in one-one-one matchups, whether it’s run or pass. If you’re telling me that our left tackle is better than their right end, and we can run outside zone all day, we’re going to run outside zone, as long as we cut off the back side. Why not? If we can exploit a weakness, we’re going to do it.
“If you tell me that because of that, we need to run it 10 times in a row to open the game, so that we can throw it, guess what, we’re going to run it 10 times. If you tell me that our ‘X’ receiver cannot be stopped, and they’re not rolling to him at all, and we can throw harveys or hinges or smokes and let him run, then we’re going to do it. If you tell me we’re going to do it 10 times because they’re not taking it away, they’re not doubling, they’re not rolling to Cover 2, they won’t do it – and if that means that’s going to open up the run game, we’ll do it. They get into Cover 2 then we start running it. I’m into exploiting weaknesses with our strengths. That more importantly is what I believe in more than – hey, look, I’m not a system guy – I’m going to come in – I’ve been through all of them. I’ve seen all of them. So I’m not caught up on that. I’m going to find the best coordinators that are going to come in, and he’s going to have a vision of how he wants to run it with mine, there’s concepts that I know work, that we did well, that I’m going to implement and want to implement. But other than that, let’s put our guys in the best position to have success, that’s what I’m about. Defensively, whoever my defensive coordinator is, it’s going to be about running his system. Let’s put our guys in the best position. If you tell me we have a corner who’s an unbelievable blitzer, well let’s blitz him, let’s bring it. Let’s let him do what he does well. In a nutshell, that’s what I believe.”
On walking back into the building 15 years later and how he has people fired up: “When I arrived three nights ago, it was about, I don’t know, 12:30 a.m., 1 a.m. in the morning, there were two fans waiting for me, both had footballs. It’s snowing, it’s coming down. It was unbelievable; they were loyal. But I was fired up, I was. It was pretty cool.”
On the important leadership traits he possesses: “When you do that, it’s hard, because you’re going to ask me to do something – you’re going to ask me to speak on myself a little bit as far as that regard. I would say that I always viewed leadership as more of a servant role, you lead by being a servant, and you do things that guys gravitate to. When they see that you’re willing to do it, and you’re not batting an eye at it, it’s just water off a duck’s back, like, they do it because it’s like, ‘Man, look at this guy. He’s just running right through it no problem, here we go.’ So I’ve always kind of looked at things that way. Leadership to me is always – it’s been hard for me, especially when I was younger, to be someone that said, ‘Well I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’m going to stand up and lead.’ I was never that way. It was always – something would come up and things would bubble inside of me. They would bubble. I could feel the heat on the back of my neck, and it’s, ‘Say something, say something, say something.’ I think that’s where it began. When I felt something, I said something. I’m a pretty genuine guy, and it’s hard for me to have fake emotion or be something that I’m not. I think my leadership comes from that. I think that I’m about people, and I think I understand people, not everybody, but I want to know people. I want to understand what makes a player tick, and who they are, where they came from because there’s a reason why everybody – everybody has some things in their life they react negatively to or positively to. I think when you can get into the nuts and bolts of it to who the human is, then you realize maybe the reason that guy showed up was something very simple that’s going on in his life, as opposed to just reacting and blowing your top over the fact that he’s late. Maybe actually something is going on. Now, I would blow my top and have a problem – but I would sit down afterwards and say, ‘What’s going on? Is there something I need to know, and let’s find out?’
“Look, let’s be honest, these kids now a days, these men, they have a lot going on. This whole social media – they have a lot of stress put on them. Yeah, they make a lot of money, life’s good, I get it. You’re right, and we should all be thankful. But also, there’s a lot of stress put on them. They have a lot of pressure from family and fans, it’s the whole fantasy (football) leaderboard. So there’s things sometimes that get to them. But my job is to make sure that their focus is on the main thing, and that’s about playing ball and being about the team first. Put your ego in the backseat, and let’s get in the boat and all row in the same direction because when we all win, then you’ll win individually. But we have to win first as a team.”
On his first meeting with Executive Vice President and General Manager Brad Holmes: “We’ve been in in contact on the phone for a while now, just bouncing stuff off each other. I would just say that he is – like when we were talking about makeup of a player last night, we were talking about vision of what you’re looking for for each player. But he’s like, ‘Dan listen, my job is to give you exactly what you need to help you implement the system, the schemes that you guys are looking for,’ and that starts with me but then goes to my coordinators. When you’re a head coach and you have a GM, who you can tell is – listen, not to mention the people that I know that he knows, the mutual contacts, (who) rave about this guy, that was first and foremost because these are people that I’m talking to. I have the utmost respect and trust in. So that goes a long way. Then I sit down with the guy and he as a GM is telling you, ‘I want to give exactly what you need, man. I want to give you exactly what you need. Just give me the vision of what you’re looking for, so we can go out and find it.’ Man, that’s all you can ask for as a head coach.
“Brad and I are going to really dive into the roster this weekend that is currently here. But we’re already talking on the same page of – hey man, listen, dive into it. I’m going to dive into it. We’re going to come together collaboratively, and we’ll come up with our own ideas as to how you feel about this guy, how you do, then let’s come together, let’s talk about him. We’ll go through salaries; we’ll hit it all. But Brad already has a vision of how he wants this thing to move forward as it pertains to our own players. He’s already working with – talking about the Draft, the Senior Bowl and all these things that are getting ready to transpire. He’s been unbelievable on that end. Vision is a big word to me. It’s something that means – because we use it all the time in New Orleans. You’re going to have vision for a coaching staff, for a coaching position. You’re going to have vision for your team. You have to have vision for the player, vision for a coach, because if you don’t, you’re just kind of spinning your wheels. They’re just somebody that’s there. But man, when you have a vision, you have a clear picture where you want somebody to be, or what you want it to look like, Brad’s got that. I’m that way, too. He’s an out-of-the-box thinker, no different than I am. You talk about, hey look, this guy’s is an athlete, you think maybe he can play cornerback? Do you think maybe he can play receiver? So in that regard, it’s been great. We’ve already bounced a few things off of each other. There’s a couple of things that I’ve already liked. He’s like, ‘Yeah, I see what you see, but I’m not as high as,’ – I love it, man. That’s exactly what this is about – the collaboration. So as a head coach everything has been about, ‘Coach, what do you need? What do you need? How can I help you?’ And I told Brad, ‘Brad, what can I do for you? Tell me how I can help you? Can I get you something that’s going to help you do your job well?’ I’ve already said it, I don’t want to make a move without him knowing about it. We’re going to be on the same page. We’re in this thing together. I don’t have to do that, just like he doesn’t have to tell me anything. We were both hired under the same umbrella with Sheila (Ford Hamp) and Rod (Wood). But man, I think it’s important and that’s how you win. This is a marriage. So we’re going to make this thing work.”
On if he is surprised to see that Lions LS Don Muhlbach is still on the team: “I was. I was here with big Don. ‘The Mule’.”
On if Saints Head Coach Sean Payton helped teach him about establishing a long-term culture: “I think it starts with the people. I think it starts with the right people. You’ve got to have people that don’t have egos, they have real humility. They’re hardworking, they’re people that want to do, they want to say, they want to be everything that you represent. I think it all starts there. That’s what we built in New Orleans. I would say one of the biggest things that happened is, look, Mrs. (Gayle) Benson was unbelievable there. She was (like), ‘Listen, Dennis (Allen), you guys, you tell Mickey (Loomis), you tell Sean whatever they need from me, they got it.’ And really, it started with ownership and then it’s Mickey and Sean, I’m telling you. Look, did they have some rough days? Yeah, they did. But I mean you’re talking about this thing’s been going over 15 years out there, and they always find a way to make it work. Man, there’s a lot of give and take, but ultimately that, to me, is the biggest reason because if those guys were fractured and it wasn’t working and there was always this, ‘Hey, it’s your guy, it’s his guy,’ because I’ve been part of that, man. I’ve been part of the, ‘Hey, scouting department is high on this guy,’ and you hear the rumblings and then it’s the coaches are saying, ‘I don’t know what he’s talking about.’ We didn’t have any of that in New Orleans, man. Everybody knew, ‘How do we help Sean? How do we help Sean? What can I do for Sean Payton?’ Because he is the voice and the vision. And so, it’s no secret why he had success. Listen, we had some damn good players, too. I mean Drew Brees is freaking as classy as they get. He’s unbelievable. And that team took on that identity, no different than their coach. But that’s the biggest reason to me, those two were able to butt heads but yet see eye-to-eye enough to where – listen man, everybody knew exactly who was in charge and there was never any of these closed door conversations about somebody and, ‘What is he talking about?’ No. We were all moving in the same direction.
“That’s my vision for Brad (Holmes) and myself. There’s going to be a clear line of communication between us two and Sheila (Ford Hamp) and Rod (Wood). This thing is going to be transparent; it’s going to be open. Man, I want to galvanize this building. I want to galvanize downtown at the stadium. I want to galvanize this city. Listen, who knows, you may be at the Subway down the street and I may just pop in with a camera. So, you just be ready because I’m going to go in there and say, ‘Hey, what do you think about your new head coach?’ And if you don’t know who I am, I’m just going to give you a hard time, just so you know. But listen, I think that’s where it starts. Here’s the other thing I would say, Sean did an outstanding job of confrontation. I don’t mean that in a negative light. He would tell you exactly where you stood, and what he had a problem with, and what he saw that was good, and any coach and any player. I think that goes a long way. I think there’s a lot of people nowadays that have a hard time of saying things the way they really are. I think they have a hard time of telling these grown men that they’re wrong or they don’t like what they’re doing and explaining why they don’t like it and what the problem is. For example, if a guy comes in late, just hypothetical, and you don’t say a word to him but you just fine him, that does nothing. That does nothing. You need to talk to the kid. Talk to him. Open up, ‘What’s going on? Why were you late? This is not going to happen again.’ But you have to confront. It’s healthy. It’s the only way you can learn. And Sean is as good as anybody. We’ve all been corrected with Sean Payton, plenty of times. But listen, everybody knows who’s in charge and everybody’s in line and they understand when you’re right and when you’re wrong.”
On what gives him belief that he can make a tough roster: “Like I said, Brad (Holmes) and I are going to dive into that this weekend as it pertains to the roster. But here’s what I know from afar as I’ve looked and some of the tape that I have watched is, I just know this, there’s some pieces here that I’m fired up about. I really am. Look, let’s call a spade a spade, there’s probably more pieces offensively than defensively that super fire me up, but that’s tentatively kind of how I feel. I’m going to go through it, but I also know this, there’s always the ability to hit on a good draft and sign a few free agents that you feel believe the same way that you do as a program and come from winning programs, and they fit a role, they fit a piece. Listen, some things can happen. You can kind of make things a little more positive than maybe the perception is in the spring. That’s what I mean by that. I’m not going to sit up here and tell you that it’s not going to take some work. Brad said it best yesterday, there is going to be some retooling that’s going to be needed. Those are the facts of the matter. What I’m saying is there’s some pieces here that I certainly like and you can work with and you can see, man, if you can complement some of these pieces, whether it be Draft or free agency, I can see this thing being pretty positive moving forward.’ I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.”
On his thoughts on Lions QB Matthew Stafford and whether he is a piece he would like to build a roster around: “Well, I’d say this, that’s another one we’re going to talk about. I need to sit down with Brad (Holmes). Here’s what I’ll say about Matthew is man, he’s a stud, all right. He’s a stud. He’s one of the toughest quarterbacks you’ll ever see. He’s extremely talented. I know he’s a team guy and listen, I know he wants to win, and so, I’ll leave it at that. That’s what I do know.”
On if there are any challenges to having played in the NFL in a different era compared to coaching now: “This is going to be in relation to the Oklahoma drill, right? That’s what you really want to ask.”
On if he wants to talk about the Oklahoma drill and how everything has changed in today’s game in totality: “This cracks me up. Let me explain what the so-called Oklahoma drill was. It was, I took a right tackle and I took a left defensive end, and I put them across from each other, and I had a quarterback sitting in (shot) gun, and I just had somebody snapping the ball. That’s all it was. It was one on one. And so, when I think of Oklahoma (drill), I think of you’ve got linemen over each other, right? You’re in this box, this five-by-five box. You’ve got a lineman over one, linebacker behind him, ball carrier, here we go, and so I never did that. But I do, do one on ones because I believe in them. I believe that you put guys in positions to where they either rise to the top or they get exposed. I think the more that you can put particularly a young player in a position to where he has to overcome adversity, or he gets exposed in front of his teammates, I think the quicker that he learns to grow. I think it’s better that you find that out in that setting than you do on Sunday when the game is on the line. And I think you find out a lot about a player, I think you find out about vets that way, honestly. You know, there’s a lot of guys, boy, they look great in practice and when the game’s not on the line, boy, they look good. But then all of a sudden when it really comes time to be counted on, ‘Oh, man, he got beat. Well, he graded out perfect except for that one or two plays.’ Well, but yeah, those one or two plays are always when the game is on the line. So, I think you can find some of those things out because you’d be shocked when you get put in front of your peers as to how somebody may or may not respond. So, I’m big on that. Look, yes, the game has changed quite a bit. Certainly, the rules of it, and look, I’m all about the rules. Now we’re going to get close to the rules. We will walk the line of the rules, but we will definitely not break those rules. Look, there’s a certain way that I believe in practicing and playing the game, but I’m also a big believer in sports science. Let’s put it that way, maybe that will help. So, I think recovery of an athlete is huge, especially in these demanding –and the nature of the way these guys play now. It’s a grueling season. It’s demanding, so hopefully I answered your question.”
On what he learned from being on the Lions 2008 team that went 0-16: “Well, if I’m being totally transparent, I got hurt in game one against Atlanta and I was put on injured reserve. My family was back in Texas, my wife and kids. So, I was actually back home in Texas for that season. Now, I was around that roster in the spring, training camp, leading up to that and so, look nobody likes that taste, for sure. There’s always a lot of lessons that can be learned from losing. You’ve just got to make sure that you learn them and that you correct them because if you don’t then you’re destined to do the same thing over and over.”
On his mindset after initially no longer being an interim head coach with the Miami Dolphins and wondering if he would ever get another opportunity at the time: “Yeah, I’ll tell you exactly how I felt. A., I knew I could do this. I knew that this was something that I felt like I was born to do. And boy, I had a whole list of things that I wrote down and said, ‘I wish I’d done this better. Man, I should’ve learned from this. This would’ve been something that had moving forward I would’ve done.’ And so, I can tell you exactly what happened. Sean Payton called me immediately and he said, ‘Hey, I’d love to have you out here. Come out here with me.’ And I had a couple of other offers going on, but Sean was like, ‘Listen, you come out here, be my assistant head coach and I’ll fill in all the pieces for you. I’ll fill in everything you need, and you need to know. And I’ll show you exactly what it’s supposed to look like.’ He goes, ‘Look, I know you know how to coach the position. I know you know offense and you can grow from this.’ But he goes, ‘As a head coach, I’ll fill in this stuff for you. I’ll show you about the Draft. I’ll show you about players. I’ll show you about the staff. I’ll show you about game situations. I’ll let you stand up in front of the room. I’ll let you lead these guys.’ And so, man, he was right, and I did, and I trusted him, and I’ve always trusted him. And he took me under his wing, and I was a sponge. That’s what I was. I was a sponge. I did exactly what he needed me to do, asked me to do. You know, if I felt like there was some fires I needed to put out before they got to him, I would do that. I felt like that was one of my jobs, but he allowed me to grow. And that’s one of the best compliments a coach can ever give to another coach, he allowed me to grow into the role I’m about to take on right now.”
On if he is interested in drafting a quarterback in the first round and what his philosophy is on playing younger quarterbacks versus having them sit and learn from veterans: “Well, I believe that you let them go and you let them win until they can’t. And then if they can’t, they sit behind a veteran who can. It was a joke, sorry. Listen, I’m open to anything right now. As we’ve said, Sheila (Ford Hamp), and Rod (Wood), and certainly Brad (Holmes) and me, we’re going to discuss. Look, there’s a million avenues that you could go with the quarterback talk. And so, this is just too early right now to talk about that. Literally, this is my second day in Detroit and yesterday I was on the phone all day and now, you know, this is my first introductory press conference. So, I promise you we are going to get to it, but I feel like it’s just too immature right now.”
On how he can help change the fanbase’s mentality of skepticism: “Well, I think a lot of it is, look, I think we need to bring some hope back into this place, man. I think, listen, I’m willing to do whatever, man. I’m not kidding you. I’m a big mind over matter person. A lot of you are going to think I’m (crazy) a little bit here, but I do believe that you can will things to happen in some regard. Like, if you’re a really positive thinker, I believe that positive things can happen to you and those around you begin to grow from that. They feel your energy. You know, there was a young lady when I was in New Orleans, she used to leave just these notes, they were kind of little motivational notes, always getting ready for the game, they’d be laying there. So, one of the notes was ‘Don’t adapt to the energy in the room, influence it.’ And I’m a big believer in that, that’s kind of me in a nutshell. Man, I believe that when you think the right things and you’re around the right people, and you deliver a message of hope, and you get your players to buy into that hope, you get the fans to buy into that hope, it becomes more than just one person. It becomes more than one team. It becomes more than one community. It becomes all of us. Look, I’m a believer in that. I think this is greater than just one football team. I think the football team can spark something great here. Listen, just deep down in my core, that’s what I believe, man. Look, I don’t want to sell you guys something that you’ve been sold so many times over and over.
“Believe me, I get it. I wouldn’t want any of you guys to just jump on board right now and be like, ‘Oh, I’m a sold.’ I got it. One hundred percent. I wouldn’t expect you to. But I’m going to do everything in my power to win you guys over and get our team to win you guys over. At the end of the day, I know wins and losses are the only thing that matters, but when I say that I want our team to take on the identity of this city, I mean it. They’re going to hear that from me. This is the first time that they’ve heard it, just like you have, but they’re going to hear it from me and it’s going to mean something from me. It’s going to mean something. It’s going to mean that when you come into Detroit, you’re going to leave beat up. I’m talking about as a team. I’m not saying tourists come in, people want to come in – but listen, this is a resilient city, but it’s made up of good, blue-collar, hardworking people. That’s what our team is going to look like. They’re going to learn to get up and they’re going to learn to fight again.”
On if he thinks the team’s record over the past few seasons is a reflection of talent or coaching: “Listen, man, I appreciate the question, but I think that’s a hard one to answer right now just because I haven’t been here, you know. Man, whatever happened with the old regime, I don’t even want to discuss. That’s water under the bridge. Look, all I know is that from afar there’s a lot of players that I’ve had respect for on this team that I think are good players, that are still here in some regards and I’m excited to work with. So, I don’t want to feel like I’m dodging it, but I just feel like I can’t answer that one right now.”
On the importance of hiring the right coordinators and what type of challenges he thinks he will face if the offseason is once again virtual: “Well, I think the first thing would be, I think what’s more important than anything to me as far as an offensive coordinator is someone that I believe has the vision of the offense kind of the way I do. Just in regard to listen, I’m not going to get hung up on what you want to call the terminology. I’m not going to get hung up on the style of system that you want to put in. I’m more into man, show me what are the nuts and bolts that you believe in. You’re a big (shot) gun run guy? Do you like under center? Do you want to spread it out? Is this a system of ‘Hey, here we go, man’? ‘This is my deal. This is where we play and we’re not moving the pieces. The pieces stay in place, and guess what if coverage dictates it then that guy gets the ball.’ I am not about that. I don’t believe in that. I believe in those things will come up throughout a game, but at some point, we’re going to find a way to get our best players, there again, on your worse players. Like, how do we find those matchups? And OK, let’s use your concepts, but now, let’s for example, let’s put (D’Andre) Swift in the slot. Let’s take him out of the backfield and work him one-on-one with WILL linebacker.
“I mean, those are the things I’m looking for. I want to see, what about tempo? What do you believe about tempo if you’re my offensive coordinator? Do you want to mix it in? Are you a spontaneous guy? What about empty? Do you like empty? Do you feel like it’s hard on the quarterback? If it is empty, how many plays are you going to give him? Do you give him five plays that he can go to by coverage? Do you give him two? So, there’s just a number of things I’m looking for. Look, I don’t want a coordinator who is going to throw the ball 60 times a game, 50 times a game. That’s not what I’m looking for. On the flip side of that, I’m not looking for somebody to run it 50 times a game. So, I know there’s this preconceived notion about me, of course I want to run the football because there’s a mentality about it. There’s a physicality about it. It makes you better defensively as well, when you do it against yourself in practice. But ultimately, man, I want to find the best guy for the job that fits what I want to do and fits what we’re trying to do here and can put our guys in the best situation to have success.”
On if he wants to alter the outside perception of the Lions and how that occurs beyond simply winning games: “By the way, I want to apologize because I didn’t answer the whole, ‘How do you work through COVID-19.’ I apologize for that, the question just a minute ago. Now, let me get back to what you just said. Yeah, in a nutshell, the easiest answer to that is yeah, I want people to know when they come into this city, they walk into Ford Field, man, they’re not going to be able to hear. We’re going to play fast. We’re going to play violent. We’re going to attack. We’re going to have an attacking mentality. You’re not going to know where it’s coming from. We’ll have multiple personnel groups, offensively, defensively. I know this is much more of a sub game than it ever used to be, particularly most offenses. But this will be something to where I feel like there’s an attitude, there’s a pride in where you live and where you play. And I love the fact that we play in a dome because it can get loud. I mean, we’ve been in the Superdome for five years and I mean, when that place is going you can’t hear yourself think. And that’s what you want, you want opponents to come in and say – you either want two things, for them to say, ‘Man, this is going to be tough,’ and they’re working on silent count all week. Or they’re like, ‘Man, this is exciting,’ because the environment is electric when you’re one of those true competitors that is coming in to play. But either way it’s the environment that you’re looking for. And so yeah, I want there to be this aura, this demeanor about it. I want to bring something back that means something, man. There’s a toughness to it. There’s a grit to it. But look, the only way to do that is you’ve got to have these small battles first, right? You’ve got to do it with one win, or one win has got to lead to two, and two has to lead to three. But along the way, even if there is a loss in there, man, it’s got to be, ‘Man, whoever we just played, it was a dogfight.’ I mean, it was an all-out dogfight and it’s like, ‘If we have to play those guys again, or we have to see them in the playoffs, we’re going to have some problems.’ And that’s what you want ultimately. You just want a team that you go out there and you know you’re going to compete and you’re in it. You’re trying to be in every game at the end of the game to give yourself the best chance to have an opportunity to win it.”
On his comments around homosexuality as a student athlete at Texas A&M University and what he learned from it: “Yeah, it was like a bonfire comment. I went to Texas A&M, but it was a rivalry game for us. So, you’re in front of the student body. I was 22 years old. I made a comment I shouldn’t have made is exactly what it was. At the time I was, ‘Oh, man,’ thought it was something exciting. And I remember I got home and who is now my wife, my fiancée at the time was like, ‘Oh my God, what have you done?’ But she was right, and it slapped me right in the face after I had talked to her. Look, I apologized for it and it was something I was young, I wish I wouldn’t have said it, and if I could go back, I wouldn’t have, but here we are. It’s out there and all I can do is apologize for it.”
On if excellence is a necessity at the quarterback position in order for a team and himself as a coach to be successful in the NFL: “I think the short answer to that is no, but I think your odds go way up of having success when you find one of those guys. So, I think, look, this is a passing league right now. It just is. The numbers that are being put up grow every year in the pass game. Look, I think that’s certainly an important piece that every team needs. If you look at the greats and these teams that have had success throughout the last number of years have a quarterback. They have a quarterback in place who is somebody that they feel like they can lean on, and they’re going to be able to rely on for a long period of time. So, yeah, certainly that’s important. Do you have to have it? Well, no, but man, tell me who the other guy is then. You know, as to who is going to serve that role? You know, I think it’s like anything else – if you don’t have something, maybe you’re lacking in one area, boy, you better beef up another, right. So, you better find a way to build on those things around that piece that maybe you don’t have, so that you can give yourself the best chance to win.”
On his video with DetroitLions.com saying he wants to help put Motown back on the map and how that happens: “Well, I think that’s already started. I think what I meant by that, look, there’s no secret what we want to do here, right? I mean, look, if you’re just talking about the standard in the Division, you’re talking about the Green Bay Packers right now. I mean, let’s call it what it is. Those guys are finding ways to win. They’ve been successful. I think that kind of starts there because it’s in the Division, man. How do we get to where they’re at? That’s where we want to get, right? We want to be competing for the Division championship every year. If we’re not shooting for that then what are we doing. And then once you become a division winner, right, now you’re starting to talk about the next level. You can only take things one game at a time, one season at a time. But I think what I’ve already stated is exactly how you get there. Like for me, all I needed to know was who I was working for and what kind of people they were, and if it felt right, and I knew that we could add people that were just like them, but had experience in certain fields, then man, it’s going to be hard for us not to have success. Now, it may take a little bit, but I just man, I bank on people, man. I put my faith in people more than anything else. It’s a people business. I just believe that. So, talent sometimes can be overrated. I’m sorry to say it. Certainly every team is going to need some pieces, but I know this man, it starts with the people, and if you get the right people, and they have certain skillsets and we use those to the best of their ability – and there again, we complement each other in every area from the top to the bottom, the coaching staff, man, to video, right, to marketing, to sales, to the team – I think you’re breeding success. That’s how I view it.”
On what his philosophy is concerning player personalities in the locker room: “Yeah, listen man, in New Orleans we had all kinds of personalities out there. They’re all different. And look, there’s personalities that are easier to deal with than others, but I know this, for example in New Orleans, no matter what was going on, when it came time to work as one unit, work together and be part of a unit, boy, those guys were on point. And it’s no secret why we had success down there. Like, my viewpoint is as long as it’s not distracting, as long as it’s not distracting from the team, or a distraction, and if the kid can play and he’s team oriented, I’ve got no problem with that.
“I mean, I’ll say this, the player at the time when I was coming into Dallas as a free agent as a player was named Terry Glenn. And Terry had gotten a bad rep about some things about his past, what he was like, wasn’t a team guy, he’s disruptive, he’s had off the field. And so, I didn’t know Terry Glenn. He came in as a free agent just like I did in Dallas. I didn’t know him, but I read that crap. And guess what? That was my first thought of him. I remember I met him in the hallway, at the same place we were staying getting ready for offseason. I remember I met him I’m like, ‘Man, I like this guy.’ And you know what? He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with after that season. You talk about unselfish? Man, he just wanted to help the team. That dude, he’d block in the run game, now. He’d mix it up. He’d finish his blocks. He was outstanding. And I remember at the end of that year I said, ‘I will never judge another book by its cover,’ because I mean, it was bad. He got beat up bad about his reputation, and I’m telling you, he was one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. So, I’m open to personalities. Now, sometimes it can be a hindrance. It can be a problem. But listen, man, I’ve got zero problem with personalities as long as we can keep them all in check and we’re all pulling the same way.”