The unpredictable spurning of the Indianapolis Colts by Josh McDaniels would have dominated just about any other offseason for just about any other team in the National Football League. But McDaniels’ decision to remain as the O-C of the N-E-P was just a brief storm on a Foxboro radar loaded with a bombogenesis here and a hurricane there. Now while those storms appeared to have fizzled to a degree - both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski for instance are at training camp, there are still strong winds blowing around the McDaniels situation.
Was the 41-year-old brought back to be Bill Belichick’s successor? Was this strictly a Kraft family enterprise? What role did Belichick play in it, if any? Was the main push to get McDaniels to remain for at least one more year generated by Brady, who had others voice his unhappiness over the playing conditions in New England?
With our first chance to speak with Brady at training camp, I asked him how happy he was that McDaniels stayed and what role he played in convincing his longtime collaborator to stick around.
“Josh and I have had a great relationship for 18 years and you know he’s one of my best friends,” said Brady. “I love working with him. We’ve had a very special relationship that I cherish and it’s kinda been that way for a long time.”
Brady deftly maneuvered around the question as if he was sensing pressure off the edge, stepping up to throw another completion. But clearly if you’re that close with someone that’s probably a discussion you’re going to have, right?
“I always talk to him about everything, and like I said, he’s a great friend of mine,” he said. “I love him, I love his family and we’re very close. When you work together with somebody for that long, you have a great rapport and relationship. I’m happy he’s on our team, happy he’s coaching me and I want to go out there and do well by him.”
That was on full display last year when Brady had his well-publicized blowup at McDaniels after a play in Buffalo. The 40-year-old quarterback felt the need to apologize not just personally to his friend and coordinator but through the media as well. That wasn’t about public relations. That was about genuine feelings.
“I’ve been feeling bad all week and haven't had a chance to say it,” said Brady nearly a week later. “He knows how much I love him."
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But it’s also proof that like any player/coach relationship, there are good days and bad days. McDaniels acknowledge as much when he was asked about that incident the day after it happened.
"It's a very competitive game and emotional game, and things like that can happen,” he told reporters on a conference call. “Being in the game a long time, and understanding that Tommy's a very emotional person and emotional player, it's part of what makes him great. You understand that those things happen, and it's never personal. You move on quickly from it, and we did, and we have. I love Tom, and all those things he stands for and all the things he does for our team. That's just a situation where you understand it and move on quickly from it, and you focus on your job."
They’ve both been exceptional at it for a mighty long time but as we’re always reminded in Foxboro, the past means nothing if you can perform in the present. Based at all that’s happened the last 10 months or so, the pressure’s on all parties to stand and deliver. Do, and the questions will fade away. Don’t and the queries will persists and grow sharper. And judging by how Brady’s media availability ended today (insert link from Phil’s story about Brady’s walkout) sometimes even the coolest cats can’t (or don’t) want to take it.