Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone penned an article for The Players’ Tribune this week, and it’s absolutely a must-read. In fact, stop reading this right now and go over and consume it right now. I’ll wait.
Okay, if you didn’t follow directions, let me summarize. First, Anzalone staunchly defends Dan Campbell’s fourth-down decisions against the 49ers with this all-time bar:
“I feel like if you shy away from your identity in that moment, then you’re betraying the very thing that got you there.”
Then the veteran linebacker goes through his highs and lows—both personally and professionally—since landing in Detroit three years ago, including what he called the “happiest I’ve ever been.”
“When our daughter, Carter, was born right before the holidays, and we were playing such great football, and all the Christmas lights and the Lions flags were going up all over the city, it was such a special time,” Anzalone wrote.
Of course, he didn’t shy away from the heartache, either. Like many of us, Anzalone admitted he was in a funk following the brutal collapse in the NFC Championship Game.
“Hell yeah, it hurts,” Anzalone wrote. “What day is today? I’ve been in a daze. My phone says it’s Saturday. Well, it still hurts on Saturday.”
But, ultimately, Anzalone has a ton of confidence in the franchise moving forward and even promises “we will get there” — referring to the Super Bowl.
“What we’re building here is extremely special,” Anzalone said. “You can talk about it all day, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say. It’s one thing to say that a city, and a team, and a culture is unique. It’s a whole other thing to actually turn down the cheddar. (Great to have you back, Coach Ben and Coach AG.)”
Anzalone finished the essay with a great story about Campbell during his exit interview this season. Anzalone was asked if he was going to watch the Super Bowl this year. Like many fans I’ve heard from, he wasn’t sure he had any interest in gritting his teeth for three hours, pretending it didn’t hurt that he wasn’t there.
But Campbell told Anzalone that he needs to watch.
“But Dan said, ‘No, you gotta watch it, man. Use every second of it as motivation. I’ll sure as hell be watching.’
Then Anzalone topped it off with perfect imagery of Campbell watching the championship game.
I can’t help but have this image of Dan sitting in a dark room this Sunday, all by himself, gripping his coffee cup for three hours straight, staring daggers at the TV, just counting down the milliseconds until training camp starts and we can run it back.