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Notes: Dan Campbell emphasizes good shoes in San Francisco

Experienced Head Equipment Manager Tim O’Neill will be a huge asset this weekend.

NFL: OCT 23 Chiefs at 49ers Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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:

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:

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.

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.

  • 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:

  • 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.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.