Hired by the Houston Texans this offseason, James Campen not only brings over 25 years of NFL experience as a coach and former player, he also has stories that are being told by the players and coaches he influenced.
On Wednesday, NFL Films Presents aired a preview of their full feature, which will air at a later date, on the Texans Offensive Line Coach. Narrated by QB Aaron Rodgers, the segment includes interviews from NFL greats such as Brett Favre, David Bakhtiari and Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
"It's been three years since we've been on the same team, but Coach Campy means the world to me and he always will," Rodgers said.
The NFL Films feature begins with Campen's return to Green Bay when the Texans and Packers faced each other in the 2021 preseason opener. For Campen, it was emotional visiting Lambeau Field, where he coached for 15 seasons (2004-18), the longest tenure by any assistant coach in Packers history.
"I know he's a coach now, and that's how most people remember him, but he was a typical lineman: no couth, didn't hold his tongue, obnoxious, smart, crafty, obnoxious," Favre said.
Campen played seven years as an offensive lineman in the NFL for the Saints and Packers, which included Favre's first career NFL start. Over a decade later, he returned to Green Bay and became an assistant coach on Green Bay's staff for the end of Favre's career there.
"I had to take the more mature role even though he was 90 years old," Campen said of becoming a coach on a team with his former teammate.
Also weighing in on Campen's influence on his career is Packers LT David Bakhtiari. In 2018, Campen coached Bakhtiari to an AP First-Team All-Pro selection.
"I mean, I was a fourth-rounder, a Day 3 guy, not really on anyone's radar," Bakhtiari said. "People were talking about me playing guard or even center in the NFL. I wouldn't be where I am today, not only on the field but off the field, if it weren't for Coach Campy."
Bakhtiari points to Texans OL Justin McCray, who has been with Campen at Green Bay, Cleveland and now Houston. This season, McCray has seen action in 12 games with six starts, playing both guard and center.
"Justin McCray has played tackle, he's played guard, he even played center," Bakhtiari said. "That development, that utility is not only a testament to Justin McCray, but it's also a testament to James Campen."
"He realizes after a couple of days or however long he's been with you, what you excel at and he tries to maximize that," McCray said.
Footage from his days of playing center for the Saints and Packers included an impressive second-effort by Campen himself to his Packers teammate into the end zone for a touchdown. From stories of getting his collarbone sawed off, to pranks with Favre to his love of WWE and The Undertaker to coaching the Texans at camp this year, viewers get an inside look into Campen's career, his sense of humor and relationships throughout the NFL.
Rodgers even shared a long-standing bet he has with Campen. The two plan to have a wrestling match when Rodgers is 50 years old and Campen is 70. Winner will get a payout to the charity of his choice.
"I'm going to pin him in less than a minute and he knows it," Campen said, but Campen's toughness is balanced with his heart in the feature. Rodgers describes the mentor that Campen was to him, especially early in his career as a backup. The two would go to dinner during road games and build a friendship. Rodgers also shared a lesser-known detail about these dinners.
"Every road game, he takes $1000 on the miracle mile that he does and walks the streets and gives out money to homeless people," Rodgers said. "He's done this for years and years and years. That's the kind of guy he is."
From 2010-18, the Packers were the only team in the NFL to have six different offensive linemen recognized as Pro Bowlers, all coming under Campen's instruction (Sitton, Chad Clifton, Bakhtiari, T.J. Lang, Jeff Saturday and Scott Wells).
In 2019, Campen served as the Associate Head Coach / OL Coach for the Cleveland Browns. He coached Browns G Joel Bitonio to his second-straight Pro Bowl selection that season, where he started all 16 games at left guard for the fifth campaign of his career.
As the OL Coach for the Chargers in 2020, Campen coached a unit that would help the team to the ninth-best offense in the league (382.1 yards per game) despite Los Angeles starting 10 different offensive linemen.
Catch Campenon the sidelines as theTexans host the Seahawks on December 12 at NRG Stadium in Week 14.Kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets