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Colts' GM: 'I didn't want the explanation' from McDaniels

Field Level Media
February 07. 2018 11:03PM

Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard skipped the small talk when he received an unexpected phone call from Josh McDaniels on Tuesday night, well after the franchise announced him in a press release as the team’s next head coach.

McDaniels called at 7:15 p.m. while Ballard was conducting draft meetings.

“I was very confident that a deal was in place, a press conference was going to be held (Wednesday) at 3:30,” Ballard said. “I live in a black and white world. Either you’re in or you’re out. I didn’t want the explanation.”

After two interviews, one with Ballard and another with owner Jim Irsay present, McDaniels on Tuesday informed Ballard that he didn’t have good news. He was staying with the New England Patriots.

“He said he had bad news for me. I said, ‘Are you in or out?’ We went around for a few minutes and he said ‘I’m out,’” Ballard said.

Ballard denied what he called “rumors” around quarterback Andrew Luck and his timetable for a return to the field. However, Ballard did confirm Luck has not yet picked up a football in his rehabilitation routine. Luck missed the entire 2017 season recovering from shoulder surgery.

McDaniels and Luck never spoke, Ballard said, nor did McDaniels ever request to speak with Luck.

“At this point, we feel very strongly Andrew is in a good place. He doesn’t need surgery. His strength is good. He’s working on his throw motion. He’s working on arm speed,” Ballard said. “He’s not going to skip a step. He’s going to do everything right to get ready to play. He’s very confident he’s coming back to prove a lot of people wrong.”

Ballard said he has “a list of great guys” he will interview and is treating the situation as an opportunity to start anew.

Ballard said there were no indications McDaniels was vacillating. He said Sunday was a hard day — the Colts lost linebacker Edwin Jackson in a car accident — and he didn’t pay attention to the Super Bowl or any perceptions that surfaced around the Colts that day.

McDaniels had lined up two assistant coaches for his staff with the Colts. Ballard said Irsay will honor those agreements.

“The staff is important. It’s critical. That’s a big part of the head-coaching search,” Ballard said.

Agent cuts McDaniels ties

Bob LaMonte attempted to talk Josh McDaniels out of a professional U-turn on Tuesday that could lead to a career dead end, but the New England Patriots won the argument.

The result, McDaniels bailing on a handshake agreement to become head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, could have a lasting impact on each franchise.

According to NFL Network, LaMonte, who also represents Colts general manager Chris Ballard and is the top power broker in NFL coaching and management circles, attempted to sway McDaniels toward Indianapolis.

But after an hourslong meeting with head coach Bill Belichick and other members of the management team in New England, McDaniels reportedly gleaned a clearer picture of the future of the franchise and where he might fit in when Belichick eventually steps away from football.

LaMonte said he dropped McDaniels as a client.

“My word is my bond,” LaMonte told Sports Business Journal on Wednesday. “Once you break that, there’s nothing left.”

There is no guarantee or agreement to make McDaniels the “coach in waiting” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. But a business handshake agreement in Foxborough would likely have greater meaning than the formal agreement McDaniels just walked away from in Indianapolis.

Owner Jim Irsay was reportedly livid McDaniels pulled the about-face some five weeks after his initial interview with Ballard. Irsay joined Ballard for a second interview in New England, where the beginning of a long-term contract was formed.

McDaniels was the only coaching candidate to receive a second interview with the Colts.

But ESPN reported McDaniels was not fully comfortable with the hands-on style of Irsay. He reached out to former assistant coaches, players and Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy to gauge their experiences with Irsay. Dungy said he highly recommended McDaniels take the job.

By leaving the Colts at the altar, McDaniels would appear to be banking on sticking with the Patriots for the long-term. Belichick and owner Robert Kraft gave no indication retirement might be in the cards.

McDaniels was 11-17 in less than two full seasons as a head coach with the Denver Broncos but largely his coaching resume was constructed with the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.


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