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Dan Campbell: Miami Dolphins player practiced every day ‘reeking of alcohol’ during his tenure

Matt Johnson
Dan Campbell, Miami Dolphins
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams are willing to put up with a lot if it even slightly increases their chances to win. Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell provided an example of that, using the Miami Dolphins as an example and creating speculation in the process.

Speaking with reporters, Campbell recently talked to reporters about the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft and the path to winning games. Unprompted, Campbell shared a story from his coaching tenure in Miami about what he and the organization tolerated from a player who produced on the field.

  • Dan Campbell record: 8-20 (3-13 as Detroit Lions head coach)

Transcribed by Dave Birkett of the Michigan Free Press, Campbell turned a conversation about Detroit’s draft plans into spotlighting what issues and behavior NFL teams will ignore from talented players.

“I remember I had a guy in Miami, god he loved ball. He was a dynamic football player, but he came in every day just reeking of alcohol. He was probably on a bender for who knows how long, but god he loved football. He showed up, he didn’t have M.A’s (missed assignments), he hustled non-stop, and it’s like, you know what? You’ll find a way to make that guy work. Not saying we want those guys, but he loved ball, and he had success. And he’s still playing today, by the way.”

Dan Campbell on unidentified Miami Dolphins players during his tenure, via Dave Dirkett

Campbell joined the Dolphins’ organization in 2010 as a coaching intern before being promoted to tight ends coach. He served in that role from 2011-’15 and then took over as interim coach following the firing of Joe Philbin.

It’s a wide stretch of years and without specifics, any names being thrown out about who the player could be are just speculation. It’s likely an unintentional consequence of Campbell’s story that was meant to highlight how much emphasis teams put on winning and talent above anything else.

It’s part of the reason why the Cleveland Browns traded three-first round picks and signed quarterback Deshaun Watson to an extension worth $230 million guaranteed, despite 22 civil suits alleging sexual misconduct and assault.

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It also makes clear that while the Lions will factor off-field issues into their draft evaluation, talents and fit are more important. If Campbell and Detroit’s front office feel a young player has some small red flags but can play at a high level and fits into their long-term plans, they won’t hesitate to draft him.

If NFL teams are willing to look past allegations of sexual assault, domestic abuse and other acts of violent, an organization certainly wouldn’t draw the line at a player who might have issues with alcohol.