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As the new head coach of the Detroit Lions, Dan Campbell is attempting to instill certain values into his team: Namely, a sense of pride to replace the stigma of being the most-historic of the NFL’s wayward franchises. In doing that, Campbell’s methods have been a touch unconventional — as is one of his ways of connecting with the greater Detroit area.
On Thursday, Dan Campbell began his press conference during Lions OTAs by wearing a full-size racing helmet after being named the grand marshal of the upcoming Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix for the NTT IndyCar Series. Campbell, who is entering his first season as Lions head coach, will give the command to start engines for the first race of the Dual in Detroit double-header.
“I know I’m a little muffled, but I figured I would start with this,” Campbell said. “I want to thank the Detroit Grand Prix for allowing me to be grand marshal on June 12 at Belle Isle. As you can see, I’m pretty excited about that. It gives me a chance to go out and see some of our fans who I know will be out there, but then just watch a good race around some good people. I’m pretty excited about it.”
After playing a decade as an NFL tight end — including for the Lions from 2006 to 2008 — Campbell is in his first full-time head coaching job after previously serving as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2015. Campbell has already attracted some notoriety as he tries to instill a culture of toughness in the Lions, most notably when he declared the Lions would be the sort of team that would “bite a kneecap off” in his introductory press conference. Unsurprisingly, the “kneecap biters” moniker has stuck in the months since then.
The Detroit Grand Prix, which features a pair of races at Detroit’s Belle Isle, has served as the IndyCar race immediately following the Indianapolis 500 for the last decade. After six races so far this season, youngster Alex Palou leads the IndyCar standings by 36 points over six-time and defending series champion Scott Dixon.