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Notes: Former colleagues praise Dan Campbell’s football smarts: ‘It blew me away’

Don’t sleep on Campbell’s Xs and Os.

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Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

For much of the offseason, we’ve seen people write exhaustively about Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell and his unique personality. Whether it’s his stories about life on the range as a kid, his leadership and communication skills as a former player, or his gritty way of speaking, most every profile focuses on who he is as a person—and understandably so.

The latest profile on Dan Campbell comes from The Athletic ($), and while there’s plenty of focus on Campbell’s entertaining background, there’s also a lot more focus on Campbell as an intelligent football mind—something that has gone overlooked and unsaid for most of the offseason.

Nick Baumgardner and Chris Burke spoke to the people who know Campbell best from his past and present to get a better look at what the Lions are getting in their new head coach. One of the more revealing quotes came from Billy Liucci, who roomed with Campbell during part of his stint at Texas A&M as a player. Talking to to him decades later after Campbell had been groomed by Saints head coach Sean Payton was a revelation.

“When I heard Dan talking offensive football (during a gathering with friends in late 2019), it blew me away,” Liucci said. “It was clear he’d been around Sean Payton for so long. You could see the Sean Payton stuff, the modern stuff and all the ideas he’s worked on offensively.”

Others noted that due to his playing days as a tight end, he had to know everything that was going on during any given play. Former NFL offensive linemen Seth McKinney—who also roomed with Campbell in college—praised his football knowledge born from playing tight end.

“You have to be a student of the game at that spot,” McKinney said. “A lot of people put their passion and focus in many different areas — Dan may not have always been Mr. Textbook in school, but he was Mr. Playbook on the field. I can tell you that.”

You can—and should—read the entire profile here.

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