Fan pride ‘inspires,’ puts wind under Lions’ wings

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — As the hype train around the Detroit Lions‘ upcoming season has hit a fever pitch, coach Dan Campbell shared his emotions in a unique way.

He referenced Bette Midler’s Grammy-winning hit, “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

“No, I don’t feel weight. I feel wind underneath my freakin’ wings, man,” Campbell said. “That’s what I feel. Truthfully.”

For the first time in Ford Field history, season tickets are sold out, the team announced Thursday.

Campbell is certainly aware of the buzz around town but says it doesn’t add pressure or an extra sense of responsibility to deliver more than he already wants to.

He says the preseason hype uplifts him “absolutely.”

“I love this. This is outstanding,” Campbell said. “I love our fans, and they feel it like we feel it. No, this is not a burden. This is not pressure. This is not weight. This gives me inspiration, is what it does for me and our guys.” Last year, he guided the Lions to a 9-8 mark — their first winning season since 2017. Now, they’re favored to win the NFC North; the Lions haven’t won a division title since 1993.

Detroit holds the longest active NFL drought without a playoff victory since 1992.

Rookie Jahmyr Gibbs, who was selected with the 12th overall pick, wasn’t born until 2002, but he’s been impressed by the fan support.

“I don’t know how it was like before, but I can definitely feel the energy now,” Gibbs told ESPN. “It shows a lot. They’re really bought into us, and it’s really appreciated.”

As he enters his third year as coach in Detroit, one of Campbell’s priorities is pushing his staff to improve the defense. The Lions allowed 245.8 passing yards per game in 2022, which ranked 30th in the NFL. The defense also allowed 22.2 first downs in 2022 and 6.2 yards last season, which were both most in the league.

“It’s no different than offense, you want to feel like you have versatility to attack anything, any team you’re getting ready to play, whatever they’re able to do, you want to be able to counter it with what you have and it’s no different on defense, because every offense we’re going to face is different,” Campbell said. “You want to know you’ve got enough ammo, not just the players, but the versatility in those players, schematically, to neutralize your opponent.”

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