Former NFL receiver turned NFL Network personality Steve Smith has never been afraid to speak his mind. So when Detroit Lions And while Dan Campbell made plenty of headlines last year—often for the wrong reasons—he wasn’t one to shy away from criticism.
He was the loudest after the Lions’ Week 1 loss. San Francisco 49ers. In particular, Smith believed the embarrassing sideline interaction between cornerback Jeff Okudah and secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant was a clear indication that this new Lions regime was a “train wreck waiting to happen,” and he needed no more proof.
“Again I question the culture.” Smith spoke to the Detroit Free Press after the Pleasant sideline blast.. “Has it changed? Oh, it hasn’t changed. And maybe after this article, coach is going to say, ‘I’d love to have Steve come and watch. Bro, I don’t need to watch.'”
Of course, most of us knew it would be ridiculous to judge an entire franchise based on one emotional in-game interaction between two strangers. Smith’s comments drew further criticism when it was revealed that he had not seen Pleasant and Okudah hugged him moments later.
And, sure enough, it turns out Smith needs to see a little more of what the Lions and Campbell have to offer. Because earlier this week on NFL Network, Smith was singing a completely different tune.
“I was very critical of Coach Campbell based on his tenure as coach. He went on to say the whole thing: The first interview was very emotional. He was a bit aggressive. It was a little more.” Smith said this week on NFL Network.. But I have to look at what he’s done and go back and say that I’m very impressed with what he’s done and how he’s doing things. You’re talking about a team that, yes, they were 3 and 13, but with seven single-digit losses last year—second in the NFL. It also tells me that they are close. They are on the verge of doing some special things,” he said.
On the one hand, it’s interesting to hear a researcher say they were a little too hasty in their judgment. On the other hand, Smith should not have jumped to such conclusions in the first place. Especially since Smith said he didn’t even want a closer look. Based on five seconds of interaction.
But let bygones be bygones.
Smith knows some will remain skeptical of Detroit because of its history. But Campbell truly believes he’s creating a Lions team we haven’t seen in a long, long time.
“Somebody hears that and says, ‘You’re talking about the Detroit Lions.’ That’s my point,” Smith continued. “We’ve known what the Detroit Lions have been for a long time, and I believe Coach Campbell is on the verge of changing that culture. The type of players he’s bringing in, the type of coaches he’s bringing in, and he’s all invested in coming in. And to these young guys and these old guys, ‘Hey, can you change this culture? ‘ It’s giving them a chance to say it. And Coach Campbell is doing just that.