Dan Campbell: I didn’t set out to hire so many ex-players

Lions head coach Dan Campbell is a former NFL player who has filled his staff with former NFL players.

The hiring of wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El brings the tally to eight former players with 90 seasons of experience among Detroit’s coaches for 2021.

Campbell — who caught 91 passes for 934 yards with 11 touchdowns across 11 pro seasons — said that he had no intention of hiring so many former players, but that’s the way it worked out.

“I honestly didn’t come in this thing and like write down on a notepad, I’m going to hire nothing but ex-players. It really wasn’t on my mind,” Campbell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I honestly said, I need to find the best people that are the best coaches. Like, how do I find outstanding character, but yet they’re outstanding coaches? And these are the names that I started to come up with.”

Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley, quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell, offensive line coach Hank Fraley, and defensive assistant Kelvin Sheppard round out the list of eight former players.

“There’s something to be said about when there is an ex-NFL athlete that’s played the position, that you’ve had to learn to adapt and adjust and go through the grind and what’s helped you do those things,” Campbell said. “You’ve been around some great players that have had to adjust, and so I think that’s one element of it. They understand those athletes because they’ve been in their shoes at the highest level.”

The Lions have to hope all that playing experience can translate to positive on-field results for those who have to execute the game plans in 2021 and beyond.