Sports

The Detroit Lions’ New Head Coach Is Obsessed With Biting Off Kneecaps

Campbell looks on during a Dolphins game, with his mouth open
Dan Campbell, back in 2015 when he was with the Miami Dolphins. Dolphins have no knees. Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions have a new head coach. His name is Dan Campbell, and he is rather excited about the opportunity. In his introductory press conference on Thursday, the former NFL tight end laid out what observers can expect from the Dan Campbell experience, things like toughness, civic pride, and cannibalism. You know, football stuff.

Here’s what I know just as an overall philosophy,” Campbell said. “You’re going to say what’s this team gonna be, what’s it not gonna be? I know that Detroit is made up of great people, some really good people. The 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.”

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Oh, you want to “win games”? Sorry, I don’t understand coach-speak, and I stopped my Duolingo lessons months ago. What I do know is that Campbell is charged with rejuvenating a down-and-out Lions team that was a laughingstock under previous coach Matt Patricia. In footballese (different from coach-speak) this is called “changing the culture,” and the culture Campbell has in mind is that of 18th century France, specifically the one practiced by the Marquis de Sade. Just listen:

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Be careful trying to, er, digest this tour de force in one bite. Campbell’s philosophy is actually extremely complicated, and demands a close, line-by-line inspection.

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This team is going to be built on, uh, we’re going to kick you in the teeth. All right?

Campbell couldn’t be more clear: The ethos of the Detroit Lions is a karate kick to the chompers. Tactics and systems come and go, but a cheap shot to the grill is foundational.

And when you punch us back, we’re going to smile at you.

All this talk about teeth and smiles may lead you to believe that Campbell has an oral fixation. You would be correct.

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And when you knock us down, we’re going to get up. And on the way up, we’re going to bite a kneecap off. All right?

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Of all the places on a leg to bite, the kneecap is an odd choice. The patella is surrounded by and ensconced in tendons, ligaments, and muscles. In order to bite the patella “off,” per Campbell’s suggestion, you’d need to get under the kneecap to get some leverage. It’d be like bobbing for apples, if the apples were made of pure bone and lashed to the bottom of the tub. I guess we know what the Lions will be working on the first day of training camp.

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And we’re going to stand up, and then it’s going to take two more shots to knock us down. All right?

Campbell’s plan involves getting punched and falling down a lot. It’s almost as if he’s looking for an excuse to be at kneecap level so he can keep biting kneecaps.

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And on the way up we’re going to take your other kneecap.

Yep, there you go.

And we’re going to get up, and then it’s going to take three shots to get us down.

Have you ever been to a wedding that has a carving station and you try to play it cool by only taking a few strips so people won’t judge you for loading up on tenderloin? But then you go back to get more and the carving station is gone and in its place is one of those giant coffee urns? But you don’t want coffee, you want tenderloin? That’s about to happen to Dan Campbell and kneecaps.

And when we do, we’re going to take another hunk out of you.

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An indiscriminate hunk just isn’t the same. Never take those first two kneecaps for granted, because there’s not going to be a third.

Before long, we’re going to be the last ones standing.

The words before long are doing a lot of work here. How many punches have the Lions endured at this point? Five? A dozen? One thousand? Are they just getting punched until there are no more legs to eat? Is that why they’re the last ones standing? That actually is the one part of Campbell’s speech that makes sense.

All right? That’s going to be the mentality.

Best of luck to the 2021 Detroit Lions. Hope they’re hungry.

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