What with all the talk of biting kneecaps and whatnot, rookie Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell certainly made a memorable first impression in his introductory press conference back in January.
If that impression was that of a "meathead," that's fine by Campbell, though.
"I said this to Chris (Spielman) the other day, I was like, 'I love the fact we're only known as meatheads,'" Campbell said via MLive in a recent interview. "I'm a meathead? I have limited brain capacity? I like (that people think) that. I'm good with that, you know what I mean? I have zero problem with it."
The 44-year-old Campbell is a 10-year NFL veteran who played tight end at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds and has 11 years of NFL coaching experience. If pundits and doubters are going to characterize him as a stereotypical jock -- and overlook him and his Lions -- that suits Campbell, it would seem.
In reality, of course only time will tell where Campbell's tenure leads the long-beleaguered franchise. But he wanted to send a message the first chance he had and was, apparently, speaking to a particular audience of those who are within the club and rooting it on.
"That whole press conference was literally for our team and our fans and community and people that want the Lions to succeed," Campbell said. "I didn't care about outside voices. ... Spielman still makes fun of me to this day about my energy, because he said I was slamming the hot coffee. But listen, I told those guys -- Sheila (Ford Hamp) and Rod (Wood) -- that, listen, I want this job. I want to be in Detroit. I want this job, because I identify with this job. You talk about it fitting like a glove? This thing fits me like no other, because I just feel like I can relate to this. I understand, man. I think I'm kind of a gritty guy, you know? Without trying to toot my own horn, I just know who I am. I am very aware of who I am, and I think that, man, I was raised on a cattle ranch. I'm about hard work. I'm a blue-collar kid from a blue-collar family."
Having played three seasons with the Lions, including a winless 2008 campaign, Campbell knows full well of the franchise's tribulations and his message of change is one that's led by work ethic, toughness and bringing energy to the job.
While a rebuild appears in store at the onset of his time there, Campbell has made noise not just with his press conference but by assembling a coaching staff cluttered with former NFL players. The Lions have also shipped out Matthew Stafford and shipped in Jared Goff. It's been an eventful offseason thus far, at the least.
While, according to MLive, walking to a gas station to buy chewing tobacco recently, he was met with scrutiny by a Lions fan about Stafford's departure following the previous exits of beloved Lions like Calvin Johnson and Barry Sanders.
"He wanted to know about why we let Stafford go," Campbell said. "Then he proceeded to tell me about how we ruined Barry Sanders, among others. And so he did tell me he'd have fresh tobacco by tonight or tomorrow. But he wanted to make sure he got his point across, and listen, I got it man. That's why I'm there. I get your frustration, and I understand it.
"I want to be part of the solution. I want our fans to understand that I get it."
Since he was hired as the Lions' new head coach, Campbell's volume has been up and he doesn't appear all that concerned with any of the criticism that's come with it. He's set a tone, that's for certain. Whether it's the right one or the wrong one remains to be seen in the season(s) to come.