Season 18 of HBO's Hard Knocks premiered last night, and the Detroit Lions, for all their previous missteps as a franchise, did not disappoint at all. While most of us outsiders loved and appreciated head coach Dan Campbell from afar and suspected we'd get a healthy helping of his impassioned, hardcore leadership style, I don't think anyone was prepared for THIS.
Assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn are two of several other former NFL players on Campbell's staff. They were running the show when Detroit's offense and defense squared off against each other. These guys are close friends, but damn, you talk about training camp INTENSITY. It was at a This Is Spinal Tap 11 out of 10.
All caps. No cap. Whatever you wanna say. I love these dudes. Jamaal Williams' speech after one of the practices was inspiring enough for me to want to run through a brick wall for this team. If you're a Lions player and you're giving any less than approx. 130% with Staley and Glenn this fired up, I don't know if you have a fully functional pulse.
The clip at the top of this blog isn't even the full verbal haymaker battle between the Lions' two top assistants. There's more where this came from. Wherever you're streaming Hard Knocks from, skip to about the 34-minute mark. I've seen Hard Knocks release full episodes to YouTube in the past, and while some third parties have posted them, I presume if I do that here, they'll eventually get yanked down on copyright claims.
A tip of the cap to Warren Sharp for making the analogy to this scene from the incredible film Sorry to Bother You, which is one of the most layered, hilarious, absurd and deep exchanges you'll ever see.
I have faint memories of watching Duce Staley play for the Eagles in the 2000s. He also played three years for the Steelers after that and was a Super Bowl XL champion. Staley was part of Philadelphia's staff during its Super Bowl LII triumph over the Patriots, too, and already has about a decade of coaching experience under his belt, which blows my mind.
Glenn lasted 15 seasons as an NFL cornerback, was a three-time Pro Bowler and a member of the New York Jets All-Time Four Decade Team who had 41 career interceptions. He now has an impressive resume as a coach, and actually started on the personnel side of things before pivoting to coaching.
Both of these guys seem like real leaders of men who command respect as former players. Either of them could well be the next black head coach. Staley interviewed for the Eagles' vacancy before it went to Nick Sirianni. From what I've seen, Glenn had at least a couple shots this past offseason with the Saints and Broncos. Keep an eye out. And let's hope we get more of the Staley-Glenn rivalry throughout Hard Knocks.
PS related merch/content for your enjoyment re: that aforementioned Jamaal Williams speech: