It was the postgame press conference seen across the country. It was a vulnerable look at a coach who cares about his team. It was an emotional Dan Campbell in tears.
The Lions lost a heart breaking 19-17 game to Minnesota that was the result of an improbably long field goal with the time expiring. It was the second such loss of the season. After the game, Dan Campbell spoke to the media visibly emotional, wiping away tears.
“When you see your players give all that they have and you lose that way, it's tough,” Campbell said. “You know, you don't want that for them. But we'll be better for it. But, again, credit to Minnesota. But, you know, we made the one mistake that cost us, you know? And so, ultimately, you know, it -- we didn't do enough to win. But I was proud of them. And I love the fight that they have in them. And I love the grit, I do.”
The emotional response from Campbell garnered attention across the country, including Drew Brees, former New Orleans Saints quarterback. In retirement from the NFL, Brees is a commentator for Sunday Night Football. On October 10 during the game broadcast, Brees spoke about a text conversation he had with Campbell and how he was impressed with the Lions effort shown, despite a 0-5 record this season.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Drew. I still go back – I probably wouldn’t be standing up here if it had not been for Drew Brees as the quarterback. Where I came from, that’s the reality,” said Campbell. “I mean, the better you are, the better everybody is. The better he is, the better we all are. Shoot, he shot a text to me just talking about how impressive it was.”
After the loss in Minnesota: Dan Campbell said Drew Brees "shot a text to me just talking about how impressive it was. It was like, ‘My god, man, those guys are fighting – those guys are not giving up, they’re fighting.’ He goes, ‘You guys are close.’" pic.twitter.com/eOAencz1qH— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) October 13, 2021
Prior to coming to Detroit, Campbell had a lengthy stint in the Saints organization. He played for New Orleans in 2009 and was the assistant head coach and tight ends coach from 2016-2020.
“It was like, ‘My god, man, those guys are fighting – those guys are not giving up, they’re fighting.’ He goes, ‘You guys are close.’ And he doesn’t send me a text every week,” explained Campbell. “I know him well and we’re friends, but I know if he’s sending me something, it’s because it means something, so that’s why it kind of spoke volumes.”
The Lions will host Cincinnati at home Sunday October 17 in search of their first win of the season. At Allen Park on Wednesday, as the team prepares for the Bengals, Campbell and his staff reiterated that the team “feels close” to their first win.