Dan Campbell is fast becoming fans’ most beloved coach in the NFL, regardless of who their favorite team is. He’s walking the almost impossible tightrope of being a players’ coach who uses his NFL experience to treat his squad like peers, while also ensuring they are disciplined and ready to play on Sunday.
Sunday marked a major step for the Lions in 2022, getting the monkey off their back and earning the first win. Jared Goff threw four touchdowns, Amon-Ra St. Brown had 184 all-purpose yards, and Aidan Hutchinson recorded three sacks — but it was a little-known practice squad player who got all the post-game glory.
Dan Campbell sent reserve OL Dan Skipper to the podium before any player today — after the first W.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 18, 2022
Skipper’s been a PSquad guy here for a long time, does whatever’s asked. Played OG for the first time today and is now here to tell his tale.
The Detroit Lions, folks. pic.twitter.com/zBPi9jfAVO
This is what defines the Dan Campbell era in Detroit. It’s not about celebrating players who know they’re already brilliant to boost their ego, but lifting up those filled with doubt. Dan Skipper’s NFL career hasn’t been one filled with praise and attention. Since entering the NFL in 2017 he’s barely hung on in every stop he’s made, playing on six different practice squads — including three different stints with the Lions.
When you’re a 27-year-old player who is continually bounced out in final cuts you know you’re one draft class away from leaving the NFL all together, but Skipper didn’t stop working, trying to do everything he could to help his team, both in practice, and on Sunday when his number was called, and he finally made his first NFL start against the Commanders. After the game Campbell praised Skipper during the team’s locker room celebration, and every single teammate joined in and brought the veteran to tears.
It’s impossible not to love this. It acknowledges the work and sacrifice every player has to make on a team, not just the starters, or the top 53. It tells everyone inside the organization that they will be noticed, they too can be celebrated — so long as they put the work in.
There’s a special feeling in Detroit this year. One where anything is possible no matter the odds. It’s difficult to imagine the Lions will surge to playoff contention this year, as there are still pieces to the puzzle that need to be found — but there is no doubt that Dan Campbell is the right man for the job.
Easily one of the best moments from Week 2 in the NFL.