The Colts-McDaniels saga brings back the Bears’ Dave McGinnis drama in 1999
CHICAGO – A popular phrase among fans in this era for a team following a bad moment for one group for one of their own is “Hold My Beer.”
Well the Bears can’t say that exactly when it comes to the Colts, but certainly they’ve had the same bitter drink that those in Indianapolis are tasting over the last 24 hours.
Announced earlier in the morning as their head coach and then with a news conference officially set in the late afternoon on Tuesday, Josh McDaniels had a last-minute change of heart. Whether it was a better deal from Bob Kraft or fear over the long-term health of Andrew Luck, he decided to return to the Patriots and remain as their offensive coordinator for the 2018 season.
It stunned the Colts’ fan base, who’ve endured a miserable three years since a run to the AFC Championship game in January of 2015. Many were embarrassed, some were angry, others were asking why.
Here in Chicago, Bears fans can certainly relate. They just have to go back about 19 years to do so, specifically January 22, 1999.
That day the Bears announced a news conference that day for 1 PM in which they were to name Dave McGinnis, the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals, as their new head coach to replace the recently fired Dave Wannstedt.
There was a problem – no agreement was in place.
For some reason, the team decided to move forward with the announcement before anything was written down on paper.
“I was going to go there and finish up the interview process,” McGinnis told WGN-TV that day. “We’d gone over the offense – the offensive philosophies. I was going to go back, we were going to go over the defensive stuff that we wanted to do.
“Then, hopefully, I thought we would get into, if I was the guy, get into the offers and proceed from there.”
But that never happened.
Upset over the announcement that was made early, McGinnis, his wife, and his agent left Halas Hall and headed for a flight back to Arizona. Television and newspaper reporters, including Rich King of WGN-TV, caught up to the near head coach of the Bears at the gate.
Remember, this was pre-9/11 so you could still do that – and McGinnis had a mini news conference after the deal officially fell through.
“I’m sad. I’m sad. More than disappointed, I’m sad,” said McGinnis.
For the stunned Bears, including then team president Michael McCaskey, it was the loss of trust after the premature announcement that led to the breakdown in talks.
“I think it did play a role and these things happen,” said McCaskey. “Sometimes they are a pathway to consideration of other things and that’s what happened in this case.”
Two days later the Bears went to their backup option, Jaguars defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, and hired him as head coach. Two years later, he led the team to a surprising 13-3 record and their first NFC Central division title in ten years. But the Bears slipped to 4-12 the next season and a 7-9 mark led to his firing after the 2003 season.
Oddly enough, McGinnis was fired as the Cardinals head coach after three-and-a-half seasons the same year, going 17-40 after taking over the job midway through the 2000 season.
Now the Colts move forward in a somewhat similar situation, though McDaniels was much closer to a deal than McGinnis was 19 years ago. But at least those Indianapolis fans know they’re not alone in close calls with a new coach.