Crybabies Gonna Cry: The McDaniels “Controversy” and the Denver Media

When you read enough sports writing you learn a certain tolerance for stupidity. Everyone is wrong sooner or later. But every once in a while you come across something so obnoxious that gets stuck in your head like a bad pop song, and you just can’t shake it. I had such an experience last week after reading the musings of one Mike Klis of the Denver Post. Klis was pretty blunt about what was bugging him, as the blog posting read: “Broncos Playoff Teams Should Officially Protest Josh McDaniels Hire in New England.

Here we go.

Take the time to read it yourself, but the bulletpoints are:

  • Belichick cheated the system by bringing McDaniels on board early.
  • McDaniels had finished his 2011 season, and shouldn’t be able to jump ship to another team.
  • The timing of the move is inappropriate because McDaniels has inside information on the Broncos and all the other playoff teams.

Before Klis made a stink about it this started to get some minor grumblings amongst the BELICHEAT LOLz crowd of poser football fans (you know what I’m talking about). To me it was pretty much just a passing breeze, and totally reminiscent of the 2008 draft. You know, the post spy-gate draft where Patriot haters spent all winter needling the Pats over their lost draft pick? Their inarticulate rage was priceless when the Pats showed up on draft day with the 49er’s 7th overall pick and parlayed it into Jerod Mayo. By their own casual clueless accounts of things it was as if Belichick had materialized the pick out of thin air like the evil sorcerer he is. In a word it was: hilarious. Well welcome back football neophytes. Your tears taste sweeter than ever.

“Marge, you just don’t understand football”

Before I break down what’s wrong about Klis’ logic let me make the point I really want to make.

Real sports fans beg for rivalry. They don’t just invite it, they crave it like cannibals. To me you might not find a better rival archetype than what I like to call the Prodigal Son Gone Wrong. By this I mean the prospective star who betrayed a team’s trust, sullied their organization, and then left for bigger and better things. It’s why the Cavaliers call out Lebron James. It’s why the Browns called out Braylon Edwards. As much as I loved him with the Patriots, it’s why Raiders fans called out Randy Moss. Maybe they traded up in life. It doesn’t matter. They’re that guy that gets boo-ed every time he comes back to his old stadium. If you love your team you want a piece of that guy no matter what.

There was no crying when Roger Clemens wound up with the New York Yankees. The man was the pride of the organization for years. He almost won a world series here. And if he had played it right he might have gone down in history as one of the most loved Red Sox ever. But he was a self obsessed asshole. There were no teary-eyed speeches in the streets of Boston lamenting a league where one team can out-spend 29 others and manufacture a championship. No. Never. We put that aside for another day and the battlecry was: We want Clemens! We want the Yankees! We want to show that cocky bloated fatass jerk that if he had a heart he couldn’ve won a World Series in Boston. It didn’t always work out, but no self respecting Red Sox fan worth his red and white would have ever wanted the 2003 ALCS to end with anything but a Clemens-Martinez deathmatch in game 7. That’s just the way it had to be.

Clemens throwing at Manny Ramirez in one of his many heroic Fenway returns

Josh McDaniels walked into the Broncos organization a budding superstar head coach in January of 2009 and had reduced it to a pile of smoldering orange dust by November of 2010. He had a Pro Bowl wide receiver-quarterback pair in Cutler and Marshall. He had offensive prospects overflowing off his depth chart. And he had a team and a city who believed in him. But somehow he sunk the whole ship in a manner that seemed deliberate every step of the way in an 11-17 mess and a clandestine master plan that never materialized. He ruined that team. McDaniels is Denver’s Roger Clemens. If he’s not, he deserves to be. I loved McDaniels as an OC and welcome him back to Foxboro with open arms, but if Broncos Nation had a pair they’d know where their priorities lie. There should be no whining. No rationalizing. No pleading. There should be a collective cry, audible from 2 timezones away, to stick this game up McDaniels’ ass. As a sports fan you cannot convince me otherwise. If the Broncos fans and media had their minds right they would salivate over the chance, no matter how tacitly or even indirectly to compete against Josh McDaniels and rise above the disservice he did their organization.

For these reasons the woe-is-us conspiracy theory of writers like Mike Klis offends me. It offends me that instead of a rivalry I get a piss poor argument from a guy who is supposed to be a professional sports writer. Say what you want about the Ryan era Jets but at least they know how to hype a game up. This is crybabying at its lowest degree. We the fans have been robbed of what should have been a legitimate buildup for this game. Instead I’ve got to listen to this, and ESPN’s fake data on how much we love Tim Tebow.

Back to the claims of cheating:

If anyone would care for a history lesson, this isn’t the first time a move like this was made. In fact, it happened pretty close to home for Denver fans with the former youngest head coach in football: Mike Shanahan. Shanny made his mark in the NFL as an offensive coordinator for the Broncos from 1984 – 1987 before taking his first head coaching job with the then Los Angeles Raiders. He bombed in LA and was fired in his second season following a 1-3 start. He was immediately picked up that same season and hired as an offensive assistant (any of this starting to sound familiar?) by none other than the Denver Broncos. According to the Denver Post, the same Denver Post that condemned the evil cheating Belichick last week, this move was largely uncontroversial at the time. We’re talking about 2 teams in the same division here. The Broncos played the Raiders 9 weeks later (and lost) before going to the Super Bowl that year. A move in the same division with practically an entire season left to play is acceptable, but the Denver media still has the nerve to condemn the Patriots? How about we watch who we’re calling cheaters Denver folks…

By calling for the league to butt in on this situation assumes that playoff teams should be punished for making the playoffs. The hiring and firing of coaches and staff begins immediately after the regular season. Unlike player free agents there’s no waiting around. There’s no ready, set, hire. The Patriots knew they were losing their OC. Are they seriously expected to be held to a different set of standards because they made the playoffs? Are they supposed to wait until March when all the other candidates have been picked through to go shopping for a coordinator? Absolutely not. They knew who they wanted. McDaniels knew where he wanted to go. He hasn’t coached in Denver in over a year. He hasn’t coached in the AFC in over a year. John Fox clearly abandoned the offense McDaniels installed in Denver. There should be no ethical tie-up about filling a personnel void just because of a coincidence.

As far as the “timing” of the move, as Klis brought up in an interview with WEEI the whole football loving world knew a week before the move was official that McDaniels was on his way to Foxboro. Where was Mike Klis during all this? Profootballtalk reported DAYS before the Steelers/Broncos game that the deal was unofficially done. Where were the Denver fans? Where was the Denver media? They get no free pass on this from me, and they certainly don’t get the right to pretend that this was a chess move from Belichick to match up against the Broncos. No one knew they were even playing Denver yet. I’m a grown man. Don’t tell me things that don’t make sense.

And then there’s perhaps my favorite part of all:

And it’s not just the Broncos who should cry foul. Among playoff teams, McDaniels’ Rams also played this season the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers (twice) from the NFC, and Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers from the AFC…That’s eight playoff teams that have just suffered a competitive disadvantage, however small, against the Pats.

With lines like this you start to wonder just what does Klis want? As if this would all be a big bowl of strawberry ice cream if the Pats had hired an assistant who somehow hadn’t coached against the NFC West, NFC South, NFC East, NFC North, AFC West, or AFC North this year. Not only that but this mystery hire would have had lived in a vacuum where the only football he gets to see is a perpetual Buccaneers – Seahawks game locked in infinite overtime. It’s called game film. Any NFL team with access to game film, or any fan for that matter with access to satellite TV, could have watched the 10 remaining playoff teams play every game and seen exactly what McDaniels saw. Gone here is the issue of a former coach swapping sides. Now it’s a crime to have even watched a football game.

I’ll go out on this issue with Klis’ closing line,

“Come on, Mr. Goodell. Exercise those commissioner power and put a stop to this.”

(haha just noticed the typo, cool editing bro). Please Roger Goodell. Make Belichick fix this. Make him march into his office. Make him fire McDaniels. Make him hire Raphael Belliard and Kurt Rambis, or anyone else with zero exposure whatsoever to the 8 football teams still active right now as his interim offensive assistants. Please Mr. Goodell save the Broncos, because the rules are the rules until they work against your team. This is a desperate chance to bring up Spygate, and to install a built in excuse in the event of a superior football team beating a gimmicky one trick pony that just happens to have a quarterback that appeals to poser football fans that think praying for something as superficial as a football game is an example worth setting.

And if you’re looking for a piece of inside information on Tim Tebow, here’s a factoid you don’t need game tape to figure out: God doesn’t give a shit about football.

Go Pats.

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