The week that was

Jim Rodriguez: Josh McDaniels saga makes a lot of headlines, little sense

The Colts thought they had a head coach.

So there was Josh McDaniels cleaning out his office at One Patriot Place. A five-time Super Bowl winner as member of the Patriots staff...the last two titles as offensive coordinator.  

Like he did once before, it was time to leave the comforts of one road in, one road out of Foxborough to be a head coach in the National Football League.

His first venture didn’t go so well. 11-17 in not quite two seasons with the Broncos. But there was always a job waiting for him in the Belichick regime. 

McDaniels is to the pro game what Lane Kiffin is to college. Young. Fiery. Great at his job. McDaniels also has Tom Brady’s ear. So much, if not all, of the team’s success is Brady’s right arm and how well he works with and trusts McDaniels.

That cache gives you something we all strive for in life, leverage.

Not surprisingly, the calls to be a head coach came again. This time it would be different for McDaniels. He wanted to go to a place he would feel comfortable. A place with an established quarterback. He found that with the Indianapolis Colts. Just one problem: the Colts may be Belichick’s greatest nemesis. 

It was the Colts that complained to the league about pass interference rules after losing to the Patriots. 

It was the Colts who erased a 21-3 AFC Championship game deficit to the Pats sending Peyton Manning’s to his first Super Bowl win.

It was the Colts who blew the whistle spawning deflate-gate.  

There is no love lost between owners, Jim Irsay and Robert Kraft. And now Indy has the man who has Tom Brady’s ear. 

So as McDaniels is packing up his desk with a plane waiting to take him to Indiana; McDaniels gets summoned to Kraft’s office.

You can only imagine what was in that room right... dancing girls? A nice seafood platter? Briefcases full of money? 

Turns out it was Bill Belichick. 

McDaniels got what he wanted all along. A long term contact. Assistants don’t get that luxury. Belichick would mentor him. Pull back the curtain to see how a roster is constructed. McDaniels is the heir apparent. And just like that.. Belichick’s defense beats the Colts. 

Meanwhile all hell breaks loose in the heartland. 

Ex-Colts head coach Tony Dungy crushes McDaniels via twitter: “There is NO excuse big enough to justify this. It’s one thing to go back on your word to an organization. But having assistant coaches leave jobs to go with you then leave them out to dry is indefensible.”

Colts GM Chris Ballard addressing the media at what should have been an introductory press conference and wanted nothing to do with McDaniels after his decision to stay in New England: “There was no persuasion. Let me make this clear: I want, and we want as an organization a head coach that wants to be all in.”

McDaniels’ own agent, Bob LaMonte, who by the way represents Ballard, terminated McDaniels as a client. "My word is my bond," LaMonte told Sports Business Journal “Once you break that, there's nothing left."

Is it comfort that caused McDaniels to stay? Is it a bigger paycheck? Is Andrew Luck’s shoulder really getting better? Or was it finally getting a seat next to the King? 

Whatever it is, McDaniels will pay a heavy price. He’ll always be known as a weasel. Not sure if that’s what makes a leader of men. And as far as being a head coach again.. would you hire him? 

So what is left? "The rivalry is back on," said Ballard walking away from the podium. 

The Colts and Patriots play in Foxborough this coming season. Smells like a prime time game to me. 

I wonder if the Colts could use a corner like Malcom Butler? I hear he’s available.

You can listen to my radio show, The Sports Bosses , weekdays at 10 a.m. ET on SB Nation Radio. Follow me on Twitter @mediarodriguez

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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