The NFL Super Bowl Sweepstakes has four remaining teams: The Kansas City Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Detroit Lions. Only one of these teams has had a winless season in the 21st century. That team is the Detroit Lions (in 2008, they went 0-16). How are the Lions in the NFC Championship? This climb to success started on January 20, 2021.
On January 20, 2021, Detroit Lions owner Shiela Ford Hamp hired former Tight End Dan Campbell (he played for the Lions from 2006-2008. Ironically, he was on the rost for that 0-16 season. Campbell’s opening press conference is the stuff of legends. There is one phrase that comes to mind when people think of this press conference: biting kneecaps. A phrase to summarize the press conference would be, “Now Everybody from the 313, put your motherfuckin' hands up and follow me”.
If you go to the original conference (under the video below), people called this man crazy and thought he would be a successful coach. But, like another Detroit Legend (B Rabbit), he proved the doubters wrong.
The First Win
Campbell’s rookie coaching year was awful. Their record was 3-13-1. The tie came at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Those three wins came against the Arizona Cardinals, the Green Bay Packers, and the most memorable win versus the Minnesota Vikings.
That victory over the Vikings occurred on December 5, 2021. The Lions were down 4 with four seconds left in the 4th quarter; quarterback Jared Goff snapped the ball and threw a magnificent ball (in a tight window) to the rookie receiver that season, Amon-Ra St. Brown, in the endzone.
That win meant everything to the city and fans. That win was Campbell’s first-ever win as a head coach and showed that Jared Goff was still a good quarterback, and it came versus a division rival. It also marked a turning point in Detroit's history as an NFL team.
2022 Preseason Hard Knock
It was announced on March 28, 2022, that the Detroit Lions would be on the hit HBO show Hard Knocks (which shows the inside of NFL football). Fast forward to August 9 of that year, the first episode of Hard Knock aired, and we got another elite MCDC clip.
This Hard Knock was most viewed in recent memory. It also exposed NFL fans to how much potential the Lions had to be a good team if given the right personnel (players and coaches).
The 2022 Season
Although the Lions did not make the playoffs like some people hoped they would, they ended the season 9-8 (the first time they had an above .500 record since 2017). Here are some of the highlights from the 2022 season.
However, it did have a notable ending. In the Lions' regular season final, they traveled to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. The Lions were beating their NFC North big brother by 4. With 3:37 left in the 4th quarter, Rodgers threw the ball to Kerby Joesph (Lions’ safety). That iced the game, sealing the win for Detroit. It also kept the Packers out of the Playoffs, and that was the last pass Aaron Rodgers would throw as a Packers (that off-season, he would get traded to the New York Jets).
Now, we have arrived at this season. The Lions accomplished several things. They got to the best start in franchise history and secured the NFC North for the first time since 1993 (before division realignment in 2002 due to the Houston Texans joining the NFL).
During the Playoffs, Ford Field hosted its first playoff game ever (the stadium opened on August 24, 2002). They hosted it on January 15, 2024, versus former Lion Matt Stafford (who carried the franchise from 2009 to 2020. Then was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff) and the Los Angeles Rams. Ford Field got to host another playoff game the following week versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Lions won versus the Bucs with a final score of 31-23. The Detroit Lions will head to the San Francisco 49ers with a chance to win the NFC Championship and go to the Super Bowl.
Dan Campbell is the Real-life Version of Lose Yourself
The final rap in 8 Mile perfectly describes the Campbell era. At first, the general public was not on his side (some were, but not all). Nevertheless, once Dan Campbell showed he could be a successful coach (like Eminem showing the audience we could wrap), they were on his side.
Lose Yourself is the theme of the Dan Campbell era in Detroit. MCDC was allowed to be a Head Coach (of a team he used to play for). The chorus of Lose Yourself is “You better - lose yourself in the music, the moment You own it, you better never let it go (go) You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow This opportunity comes once in a lifetime You better - lose yourself in the music, the moment You own it, you better never let it go (go) You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow This opportunity comes once in a lifetime”. The meaning behind the chorus is to seize the opportunities the listener is given. MCDC did that and is now one of the most successful coaches in the League.