Reliving the Josh McDaniels era in Broncos history sends a slight chill up my spine. Why? Because he’s the first and only head coach for a local team that I despised.
I’ll sift through the reasons as I roll through this, but listening to the “Mile High Memories” episode about the coach’s tenure in Denver, I was reminded of the infamous McJayGate.
Jay Cutler was drafted by the Broncos in 2006. The Broncos fired legendary head coach Mike Shanahan in 2008. That’s when Denver hired Josh McDaniels.
Jay hated the hire because it meant he was going to lose Jeremy Bates, the Broncos quarterbacks coach under Shanahan. That led to McDaniels secretly looking at Matt Cassel as a possible addition to the Broncos. And like in high school, the rumors of Josh gawking at another got back to Jay.
Then, there was a meeting with Jay, Josh and others. That’s when the claws came out.
“I can trade anybody I want because I’m king of the Broncos!” McDaniels didn’t actually say that, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he did. Anyway, next thing you know, Cutler gets traded. Classic high school drama.
While listening to Sandy Clough and Mike Klis go through the drama-filled era in Broncos history, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud many times. Did you forget about when Josh McDaniels referred to Jay Cutler as “The Player?” I did! Such a catty move by McDaniels.
It was interesting to relive the timeline of how quickly things fell apart between Cutler, McDaniels and the Broncos. The guys laid it out to perfection.
At one point in this episode, a Pat Bowlen quote was read and it reminded me of the great ownership the Broncos once had. That type of leadership is missed.
Plus, it’s easy to put all of the blame on McDaniels, but the way Sandy and Klis lay it out, a lot could be placed in the lap of Cutler. Not like he cares. Let’s be honest, if you can do a spot on impression of Eeyore, you can do a great impression of Cutler. No energy, doesn’t really want to be anywhere. If you didn’t get the comparison.
Sandy pointed out that John Madden was a huge fan of Cutler. I didn’t realize that until I was listening to this episode. McDaniels didn’t like Jay. Madden is a Hall of Famer. McDaniels is a guy riding the coattails of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. So, yeah.
Now at the time, I was producing the midday show for 104.3 The Fan. One thing that happened in the McDaniels era that caused problems for me and others in my position was player availability. The media was “blocked” to some extent from getting player interviews, at least that’s what it seemed from my experience.
That’s not the end of the world, but it created issues. I/we had talent that was still living in the Shanahan world, where we could ask for anyone and have a good shot at getting them on the station. So I’d get into arguments almost on a daily basis with hosts because we didn’t get Joe Football Player on the show to stumble through some easy questions.
As a side note: On-air talent can be giant cry babies when they don’t get what they want. And I don’t handle cry babies very well.
Josh was also rude to the lower level (behind-the-scenes people) media members. That’s not uncommon with some people. I could give you a list, but let’s just keep it to Josh for right now.
So anyway, nobody really liked McDaniels. He and Cutler were oil and vinegar. Sure, you can mix them up in a container at Subway and put them on a sandwich, but give the mixture a little bit of time and the parts are destined to split up. That’s right, I compared the two of them to a condiment.
I feel like I went off on a tangent in this, and for that I’m not really sorry. I’m sure Josh McDaniels is a great person. I just never experienced that side of him.
I do wonder what would have happened to Cutler’s career if McDaniels hadn’t gotten all diva with him. Where would Jay have led the Broncos?
The fact is Cutler had a lot of physical talent; he just wasn’t mentally all in. Did that lackadaisical outlook on football get kickstarted by McDaniels? Geez, let’s pretend the answer is yes. I don’t have anything else to add to that; I just want to let that linger.
I guess in the long run, the whole ordeal led Broncos Country down the proper path that intersected with Peyton Manning, two Super Bowls and one championship. So in the end, the drama was totally worth it.
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