Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell is known for some memorable speeches in his three years with the Lions, but his one after the team’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move them to the NFC Championship game may have topped them all.
Campbell starts his speech with what can only be described as bewilderment at what this team has accomplished already.
“You guys are unbelievable, man. I’m tellin’ ya. We talked about it all year,” Campbell said, fighting back tears. “This started a long time ago. You’re built for this. You’re fucking built for this, man. And look at what you guys did. You went out there, and it’s another fucking hot team that we knocked off. It’s the next hot team that you knock off. You know how hard it is to win in this fucking league in the playoffs? Do you understand what you’re doing right now? What we’re capable of?”
It’s a powerful statement on not only how good this team is right now, but a strong reminder of everything they’ve accomplished. What they’re doing in Year 3 is not easy. It’s not normal. It’s not a fluke or a cinderella story or streak of hot luck. This is a Lions team that is continually proving themselves week after week after week. They’re going up against streaky teams and explosive offenses and keep coming away victorious. And this group—one of the youngest teams in football—is unfazed by it all. No moment has been too big for them.
“That’s two, alright,” Campbell continued. “That’s two. We’ve got two to go with a bye in the middle. I am unbelievably proud of everybody in here, man.”
Then Campbell gave the game ball to the man who closed out the game: linebacker Derrick Barnes. It’s an awesome moment for Barnes, who hasn’t had a ton of big moments in his three-year career. However, he clawed and scratched his way into the starting lineup this year, despite the fact that Detroit essentially drafted his replacement in April with first-round pick Jack Campbell.
But that linebacker room welcomed the competition and always preached how much they loved each other in that room. So it was no surprise what Barnes honored the entire linebacking corps after getting the game ball.
“Love y’all boys, man,” Barnes said. “From the support in the linebacker room, the coaches, the staff, organization, offense... three years, man. It took me three years to get the first interception, but it means more because (of) the people who believed in me. A lot of people didn’t. The room—this ball, I gotta give it to the linebacker room, ‘cause I said we was gonna bring one back, and god damnit, we did.”
Watch the entire locker room celebration here: