The NFL’s annual spring meetings are winding down, and while there have been rule changes and adjustments, at least one rule many thought was sure to pass has been tabled – and the person you’d most expect to support it didn’t.
The “Josh McDaniels Rule,” or Proposal G-4 as it was formally called, was tabled on Tuesday, meaning there weren’t going to be enough votes for it to pass.
The rule was meant to prevent future coaches from doing what McDaniels did to the Indianapolis Colts last month, backing out on an agreement to accept a head coaching position, and keeping teams from having to start over in their search (and likely with a smaller pool of strong candidates).
The proposal sought to allow teams to “negotiate and sign a head coach candidate during the postseason, prior to the conclusion of the employer club’s season.”
But according to Indianapolis Star reporter Stephen Holder, Colts general manager Chris Ballard wasn’t a supporter of the rule, even though he was left at the altar by a runaway coach just weeks ago.
“When you’re a playoff team, you’re trying to eliminate all the distractions that you can. And we’re going to be a playoff team and we’re going to have these issues,” Ballard said. “It becomes a slippery slope. We have rules in place for a reason. I think they’re good rules. It gives you a chance to interview and then, after the season, whatever happens, happens. In our case, he changed his mind and we moved on.”
Holder notes it’s unclear whether the Irsay family, which owns the franchise, agreed with Ballard’s stance, or how the team ultimately would have voted if there had been an official tally.
Despite Ballard’s assertion that the Colts’ rivalry with the New England Patriots “is back on,” which he said to media the day after McDaniels backed out of his agreement with Indianapolis (just hours before he was supposed to be in the city for an introductory news conference), the general manager was far more pragmatic about the situation on Tuesday.
“What if you hire a guy and he’s halfway in?,” Ballard said. “Even though it was painful, and everybody reacted, I kind of didn’t see what the big deal was. You move to the next scenario. That’s just what we do. People are so scared of the unknown. I say just keep moving forward. What if a guy signs a contract and then, two weeks later, has second thoughts? What are you going to do? What are the legal ramifications?
“And that playoff team who has worked their (butt) off, they’re trying to win, man. The rules are in place to protect them. It’s already a distraction, but now you’re creating a whole other issue.”
Ballard is well-regarded around the league, for being a good guy as much as a good personnel man, so maybe that’s what’s behind his sentiment. He also could be really happy that things turned out the way they did: forced into a re-do, the Colts wound up hiring Frank Reich, the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator, as their new head coach.
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