Dan Campbell unplugged: The Lions coach's best quotes from camp so far

DETROIT, Mich. -- For football fans, the “kneecap” speech was an instant classic.

By now, if you follow the NFL even casually, you’ve probably heard about the off-the-cuff, entertaining news conferences given by Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell.

Campbell has yet to lead the Lions out on the field for an official game but, during training camp, he’s provided media members with a number of golden nuggets.

He made national headlines during his introductory news conference in January when he shared his vision for the team being tough enough to “bite a kneecap off.” On a podcast in May, Campbell said he would be armless if bringing a Super Bowl to Detroit required losing a limb, and also joked about asking Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp about having a pet lion around the team's practice facility. Then in June, he began a news conference during OTAs wearing a racing helmet after being named grand marshal of the Detroit Grand Prix.

Campbell -- much like he did as the interim coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2015 -- has shown himself to be one of the most charming coaches in the league. Here are 11 quotable moments from his first Lions training camp so far.

On his emotions for his first camp as Lions head coach (July 28): “My first thought was, ‘Man, I didn’t sleep at all.’ But that’s OK because I’ve got plenty of energy without sleep. I do tell myself that and I want to tell myself that. It’s certainly a little easier in camp than once the season hits.”

On what he wants to see from players on the first day of practice in pads (Aug. 3): “I want to see these guys compete. Like, I want to see them go all the way to the point to where it is almost an all-out brawl, but we're not getting that. Like it's so heated, and it's so hot and guys are trying to win so badly that we get better. I think that's the only way you really get better. There's such a fine line between, ‘We took it too far and guys are getting hurt. We're out of control.’ But yet, if you don't push it almost to that point, you really won't get where you need to get in my opinion in this league to be competitive at the very highest level. That's what I'm looking for. I want to see guys strain, particularly up front. I want to see guys strain. I want to see you strain to win in your gap."

Memories of a brawl from his playing days (Aug. 3): “Since we're in [our] first day of pads -- I was thinking about this and kind of told the team this last night, so I'll never forget this. I was a rookie. I go to the New York Giants. Howard Cross was, I don't know, a 10-year, 11-year vet. He was a tight end. He was huge and played a long time. But at that time, you just roll out there in pads. I mean, there was no acclamation to go. I’m a rookie and he says, ‘Hey Dan, are you ready?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I'm ready.’ He goes. ‘OK, so when this thing goes down, make sure you got my back’. And I was like, ‘What are you talking about? When this thing goes down?’ I said, ‘What's going down?’ He's just like, ‘Have my back. Make sure you got my back.’ It was like first period, team run, and it was like literally the first play and one of our D-lineman just slugs the crap out of our center and it's all out. It's an all-out brawl. I’m looking and there's Howard and I'm like, ‘Somebody is on his back.’ I’m running over there. You're just trying to get involved, but yet you don't really want to be in there and fight in the middle of all of it. It's really changed a lot since then. But it was like every day, first day [of] camp, ‘Here we go.’ That's not what I'm looking for. That was the point of the story. That’s not what I'm looking for [my Lions] guys.”

On what makes Lions fans unique (July 31): “I know it’s hard, but they have been able to endure. They have been able to keep the faith. There’s hope in another year, hope in a new season. I think they are resilient. I think that’s what makes them unique. I know it hasn’t always been the way you had hoped it would have been as a fan base, but you know what, I think they are always holding on to hope. It’s coming. Here’s the time it’s coming, because when that time does come, it’s going to be special unlike any other community. I believe that. I think there are very few in this country where when you can get a win, it’s special, real special. I thought New Orleans was one of them when I was down there [as an assistant coach]. There really is, there are not a lot of them, but this is one of those places where you win here, it’s special now.”

His message to Lions fans during Family Fest at Ford Field (Aug. 7): “Look, here’s my message to you fans is this… I want you to envision right now that we’re all in the backyard because Ford Field is our backyard. OK? And we’ve got our fire pit in the backyard, right? And so, we’ve got our beer, we’ve got our hot dogs, we’ve got our wine. The kids got the marshmallows ready to go. All right, let me tell you something, we’re going to bring the firewood and we’re going to light the flame. And you guys know at some point, it gets late in the night man and you really want to see the show and see how high you can get this thing to burn. You’ve got to, you’ll douse it with gasoline. And that’s what we need from you.”

On safety Tracy Walker’s leadership on the defense (July 31): “I have a good Tracy Walker story for you. We come out yesterday, he runs up on his own and goes, ‘Hey Coach, I’m getting a pick. I’m getting a pick today and I’m going to bring it to you.’ I said, ‘OK, you promise?’ He goes, ‘I promise. It’s coming.’ Well, he didn’t get one. So, I fined him. Last night in the team meeting I said, ‘I’m, fining you for that $50, but I’m going to pay the fine.’ So, I paid the fine, but he owes me two [picks].”

On nose tackle Alim McNeill in training camp (Aug. 3): “‘Twinkle Toes?' I'd be careful gushing right now because I want to see him in pads. I'm telling you, for a big man, he's a big man. He's thick and he's got really good feet.”

On if he needed to drink extra coffee before a practice (Aug. 3): “No, you don't need it today. You don't need the extra coffee. Not with the pads on. So, normal coffee today. Next cup of coffee will be out there when we do a team run. So, this will be exciting. I can't wait. Normally what I do is I get two Venti. At Starbucks, I get two Venti of the Pike [Place Roast] with two [espresso] shots in them. So, Black Eye [orders, from the secret menu] in both. That's what I come in with. That's how I start the day.”

On if he is superstitious (Aug. 9): “A little bit. You noticed that? I do. I'm a knocker. I am. I'm a knocker [on wood]. I mean anything like -- yeah, a little bit. If it's something that could potentially be seen as bad luck in my eyes, I'm going to knock. Doesn't matter what it is. It's just me.”

On whether he wears an article of clothing for good luck (Aug. 9): “Well, that could come up. That could potentially come up. Maybe the same underwear -- you just don't wash it if you're winning. But it's worth it for a win, right?”

On whether there are players on the roster who have grit (Aug. 10): “There's no turds here.”