KRAVITZ: McDaniels spurns the Colts, leaves them at the altar, and reveals his true character

In this Oct. 2, 2016, file photo, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talk before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Bob Kravitz

There is sleazy, and then there's Josh McDaniels.

There is duplicitous, and then there's Josh McDaniels.

There is fraudulent, and then there's Josh McDaniels.

There is, well, I can't use most of the words that accurately describe McDaniels, who left the Colts at the altar Tuesday, backing out of the team's head coaching job less than 24 hours before an introductory press conference scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

I've seen some low-down dirty deeds in sports, seen coaches back out of commitments to take a head coaching job – Billy Donovan in Orlando comes to mind, as does Bill Belichick quitting the Jets on the day he was to be introduced – but this one, this shameless and destructive move, this one is in a grimy category all its own.

McDaniels had five weeks – the bye week, the two playoff games, the bye week before Super Bowl and then the Super Bowl week – to get his affairs in order, to talk to Belichick and Patriots' owner Robert Kraft and find out where they stood on his eventual departure. For five weeks, or at least the better part of five weeks, the Colts believed they had their man. They even began putting together their assistant coaching staff, and sent out an e-mail Tuesday morning to tell the media McDaniels would be introduced Wednesday at a press conference.

During Super Bowl week, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported that he had heard rumblings that McDaniels might be getting some cold feet, but those reports were scuttled Tuesday when the Colts announced that it was a done deal.

Except it wasn't done. Not in McDaniels' mind, anyway.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Kraft and Belichick put the full-court press on McDaniels to stay these past 48 hours, sweetening his deal and, we would assume, giving him assurance he would someday replace Belichick as the Patriots' head coach. The Patriots saw the handwriting on the wall: They were going to lose both coordinators (McDaniels and Matt Patricia, who stood by his word and joined the Lions) along with two highly-respected assistants, special teams coach Joe Judge and assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, who were set to join McDaniels in Indianapolis.

Concerned about a massive brain drain from Foxboro, they set their sights on retaining McDaniels.

Deflategate revenge? Please. The relationship between the Colts and Patriots had actually improved over the past year since Ballard took over. The two franchises even made two trades with one another, one involving Phillip Dorsett, one involving Dwayne Allen. This had nothing to do with Deflategate and everything to do with the fact the Patriots couldn't bear the idea of losing so many important assistant coaches.

The Colts' press release to announce the change of heart was very straightforward and free of rancor, although it's very safe to assume the team's ownership and front office are fuming right now.

"After agreeing to contract terms to become the Indianapolis Colts' new head coach, New England Patriots assistant coach Josh McDaniels this evening informed us that he would not be joining our team. Although we are surprised and disappointed, we will resume our head coaching search immediately and find the right fit to lead our team and organization on and off the field…"

There are reports the Colts already have reached out to some candidates and will begin the interview process anew within the next 24 to 48 hours.

Except for Kris Richard, who joined the Dallas staff recently as an assistant coach, all the candidates the Colts interviewed have accepted head coaching jobs elsewhere. So once again, the name Dave Toub comes to mind; the Chiefs special teams coach has a long relationship with Colts general manager Chris Ballard – but was not initially interviewed by the team. Another name that would take some of the sting out of Monday's news: Frank Reich, the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. Or John DeFilippo, the quarterbacks coach for the Eagles.

Yes, this makes the Colts look foolish. There's no getting around that. It makes them look inept, like a bunch of dupes. They put all their hopes in McDaniels, who was their first interview and the man they wanted all along. And then, in a disgraceful move, he spurned them at the last moment, spurned them on the same day he was reportedly reaching out to assistant coaches about joining him in Indianapolis.

If you're the Colts, how do you sell the next head coach – he would be, what, their seventh choice? – to the local fan base? Whoever it is, he's going to look like a consolation prize. More important, this is an enormously important hire as Andrew Luck attempts to recover from his shoulder issues and re-embark on what had been a very fine, but short, career.

More, though, it makes McDaniels look bad, or at least worse than he already looked. His word is mud now. He committed to the Colts and then he de-committed, undermining not only the team but the assistant coaches he'd brought along to join him in Indianapolis. I'd love to tell you he committed career suicide, but the truth is, he didn't. He will someday replace Belichick, who will likely walk the same day Tom Brady decides to retire.

Think, though, of all the people who were injured by this decision. Not just the Colts, but those assistant coaches who, along with their families, were committed to joining him in Indy, or who already had signed contracts and had begun working in Indy? What happens to them now? Keep them? Buy them out? So many questions, but so few answers – for now.

I admit it: I fell for it, fell for all the talk that McDaniels had changed since his rocky tenure in Denver. I fell for the talk that he was a changed coach and a changed man, that eight years was enough time for him to grow up and figure things out. He talked a really good game in Minneapolis; yes, he did. And while he never talked about Indy – he couldn't talk about Indianapolis – he did sound like a man who was excited about the near future, wherever (cough) that happened to be.

It was all nonsense.

Every insincere word of it.

McDaniels' character has been revealed, and it's not a pretty sight.

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