Dan Campbell is just starting his career as a head coach in the NFL. But his first taste of the league came when he was a tight end for the Giants.
“I always felt like the Giants were a special organization and I was fortunate to have started there,” the interim leader of the Dolphins said on Wednesday. “The Mara family, certainly is what the Giants, for me, are, what I remember most about, and just a rich, historic football family. You know, it’s one of those special organizations.”
Campbell is one of three active head coaches with ties to the Giants of the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was the tight end from 1999-2002. Jason Garrett was the backup quarterback from 2000-03, and Sean Payton was the quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator from 1999-2002.
Campbell said they have stayed in touch, mostly through texting, as they are all pretty busy.
“Certainly both of those guys have had an influence of a little bit of who I am and how I coach,” Campbell said. “Jason, as a player when I was there, was one of the smartest players I was ever around and Sean Payton was one of the smartest coaches I had ever been around. Certainly I have taken some of that with me and some of the things that they do.”
Tom Coughlin did not cross paths with Campbell during his tenure with the Giants, but the hard-working, well-liked former tight end certainly left a mark on the franchise.
“Some of the people here certainly remember him and are well aware of his intangibles,” Coughlin said.
Campbell’s future isn’t clear. He’s the interim head coach for the Dolphins, and while his immediate impact was clear the team has had ups and downs during his brief eight-game run.
No matter what happens in Miami, though, Campbell said he now has a better idea of what it takes to be a head coach in the league. And he believes he can handle it.
“I do feel like I know it’s in my blood and I feel like I’m doing what I was meant to be doing,” he said. “Certainly this is a win business, you’ve got to win games, but this definitely does not feel like it’s too big for me or it’s over my head. I’ve gotten more comfortable every week. I’m doing everything that I can to win games here with the Dolphins. I’ve told the players that, I’ve told everybody that, and I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
Just like when he was a Giants tight end.