I am higher on Dan Campbell's chance of succeeding with the Detroit Lions than most people, for the simple reason that he has organizational knowledge and the franchise's emptiness can only be truly understood by those who suffered under it. When the F350 starts sliding on Telegraph Road on freshly fallen powder, it's prudent to steer into the skid and hope to make the best of an already bad situation.
It may be two or even three years before we can fairly assess the progress, if there is any. Lions writers have been crafting news stories, sidebars, and columns on bad teams for almost 65 years. Audiences know the drill. So coverage of Campbell and his unique, Monster Energy-laced enthusiasm and intensity will intensify. There are clicks to be had.
Generally, that's not a situation I'd prefer as a long victim of Detroit football fandom. In this case, though, it feels like a positive. Let Campbell and his apparent insatiable hunger for human cartilage take the barbs. Have the internet MEME him into oblivion in its own mind. Because, carefully monitoring the situation, something's occurred to me.
Campbell is one of one. That type of stuff isn't going to bother him or distract from the goal at hand. He's not playing a stereotypical coach because he thinks it's part of the job — a practice far more common and painful to the trained. No, he's doing it earnestly.
The kneecaps stuff. The placard that says Dude outside his office. Going full method actor in his duties as grand marshal of the Detroit Grand Prix. Whatever the next several will be, they'll be borne out of the same place.
All of this has me wondering if this mighty curse that has turned the Detroit Lions into professional sports' biggest laughingstock with the benefit of driving any interest or ironic bandwagon fans has to be broken by Campbell. The script is already hellaciously bizarre enough to be believable. No team should exist in purgatory dating back to before the U.S. had even launched a single satellite.
Why wouldn't a guy who rolls back into town as a 1986 Camaro and a sixer of Miller Genuine Draft on the lawn in human form be the one who leads the pride out of the darkness? Besides the obvious reasons, of course. All of those will surely manifest with great regularity in a manner of time and the Lions community will do what it always does: shrug through the pain and accept that rooting for this team is a job Sisyphus quit.
Don Draper advised to change the conversation if you don't like what people are saying. The Lions have effectively done that. Campbell O'Clock is dominating the listings and crushing in ratings. It feels like a relatively new content strategy. At this point, it's worth going full Constanza and doing the opposite of everything that's been done before.
Hiring someone who is an original is the surest way to do that. So, look, here we are. In four years, I'll remember I wrote this post and it will have aged as poorly as someone who drank out of the wrong golden chalice. But life is weird and so is Campbell and whenever Detroit does make a postseason run, it'll feel totally illogical no matter the sequence.
Whomever does it will be a legend in the Motor City forever. Why not Campbell, who has a point of view, even if it may crib heavily from some ancient drawings?