Justin Rogers from the Detroit News wrote up a nice feature on the Detroit Lions’ equipment manager Tim O’Neill, who has been with the team for 22 years. During the media session on Thursday, head coach Dan Campbell relayed the advice he got from NFL legend Bill Parcells upon winning in the Divisional Round to get to the NFC Championship Game “Congratulations, shoes.” What was that all about? Parcells was warning Campbell to think about turf conditions and slippage on the field if players don’t have proper cleats on.
A little later in the press conference, a question circled back to the “shoes” story (at about the 4:15 mark in the video), and Campbell explained the importance of the team’s veteran equipment manager in dealing with the field conditions in San Francisco:
Shoutout to our equipment manager, Tim O'Neill❗️ pic.twitter.com/jOLHXrFwXS— Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 25, 2024
The love for O’Neill is real. In addition to the glowing testimonial from Lions head coach Dan Campbell, there was this comment on Rogers’ story about O’Neill from Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy. Nagy’s career began with an internship at the Green Bay Packers in their 1996 Super Bowl XXXI season, which was O’Neill’s second season in Green Bay as an equipment assistant:
Worked with Timmy my first job in NFL back with '96 Packers. Reconnected a couple years ago when Lions coached in @seniorbowl. One of the most genuine good guys in the league.— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) January 26, 2024
Are the shoes and footing really going to be a thing? What coach Campbell said about the Divisional Round game between the Packers and 49ers is no joke. Former NFL head coach Mike Martz singled out the field and footing conditions even without weather as a factor to be a big deal in the upcoming NFC title game on Friday. A video posted to The 33rd Team by Martz with footage from that Divisional Round game offered ample evidence of slippage, including slips by players from the home team on their own stadium’s turf.
According to SBNation site Niners Nation, Levi’s Stadium has had a sordid history of turf problems since its opening in 2014. Attempting to prevent a national stage embarrassment, the stadium replaced its turf prior to the Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl in February 2016, but it did not seem to matter. Soccer fans witnessed a Gold Cup debacle in the rain between the United States and Jamaica in July 2017. Levi’s Stadium again replaced the entire field in the lead up to the 2019 Alabama-Clemson college football National Championship Game.
People on the outside don’t understand how important EQ is to a football team. They are the backbone, tirelessly working long hours and ready at a moments notice. Thank you for highlighting Timmy and all the he does! https://t.co/Cy7sRa79xT— Joey Harrington (@joey3harrington) January 26, 2024
Given the footage from last weekend, it looks like playing surface issues remain in San Francisco. That means shoes will be a huge deal, and it’s good to have a seasoned pro like Lions Head Equipment Manager Tim O’Neill with the team for this contest. Now, on to the rest of your weekend Notes:
- If you have not already watched Meko and Morgan break it down on our Pride of Detroit YouTube channel for the NFC title game, do it now. Right now. Then subscribe so you don’t miss any more of their tremendous content in the future.
- Joe Kania and Erik Schlitt posted their NFC Championship Game preview episode of the Detroit Lions Breakdown podcast. You can listen to the entire 90-minute audio in a web player on their site or on your favorite podcast service.
- MLive’s Julian Leshay Guadalupe wrote about what the Lions’ playoff run means to a family who “watch Detroit Lions games to keep their father’s memory alive.” Related: a really touching item by way of MLive’s Kyle Meinke:
Just boarded my plane to SF. Sitting by a gentleman who was at the 1957 title game, who is swapping stories with the folks on the other side of him who were also at the 1957 game. One pulled out a picture of his father, a longtime fan who died last year. “This is for dad.”— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) January 27, 2024
- Katy Kildee from the Detroit News has a really cool article with night time photos of Michigan Central Station lit up in blue with a Lions message to support the team. MLive’s Edward Pevos also had a story on this with additional angles.
- Folks, Detroit rapper Gmac Cash of “Lions Won Again ” (explicit lyrics warning) notoriety dropped a new hype track named “Lions Still Winning.”
- We briefly mentioned Kay Adams’ Monday episode of Up and Adams in our Tuesday Notes because she interviewed Derrick Barnes on that episode, but there was another segment worth mentioning. The host played part of head coach Dan Campbell’s postgame media appearance in which he spoke highly of Jared Goff’s fourth quarter performance. Then she put up a pretty remarkable graphic about how well Goff has played down the stretch in the fourth quarter this season. “Since Week 10 including these playoffs, Jared Goff has been by far the best fourth-quarter quarterback in the entire league.” As our own John Whiticar put it, Jared Goff is the man.
- Michigan really was admitted as the 26th state on January 26!
It's the state of Michigan's "birthday" today, so we tested a few of our guys on some Michigan-based trivia! pic.twitter.com/5jXAGNrtVb— Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 26, 2024
- On another musical note, the San Franscisco 49ers announced the national anthem will be performed by Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Luis Fonsi of Despacito fame and the halftime performance will feature Journey. Adam Graham from the Detroit News has more on this.
- Calvin Johnson was on the St. Brown brothers’ podcast over at The 33rd Team. You can watch the entire 64-minute video on YouTube:
- Linebacker Derrick Barnes and San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Eric Branch joined MLive’s Kyle Meinke and Ben Raven on their latest Dungeon of Doom podcast episode. You can listen to the entire 42-minute audio in a web player on Spotify.
- If you thought Erik was so laser focused on the NFC Championship Game that he wouldn’t have time to talk about scheme fit prospects, you would be incorrect:
- You’ve seen our Madden Sims. Someone out there ran a Tecmo Super Bowl sim of the upcoming NFC Championship and it gets a pretty nice result.
- On Friday, the Lions’ media folks put out a new Talkin With TJ video featuring Graham Glasgow.
- Happy birthday to the one and only Voice of the Lions. On this joyous occasion, the Lions media team also posted a “2023 Calls of the Season” video on Friday.