By S.C. Hunt
It’s official. Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has officially and publicly exonerated his head coach, and backed the firing of Steve Scarnecchia, the poor schmo who videotaped a San Francisco 49ers pre-game walk-through a month ago in London. Worth note: Bowlen, in a prepared statement to the media, said Scarnecchia chose to run tape on the ‘Niners practice “on his own.”
Right. And Josh McDaniels is up for coach-of-the-year honors.
Like a lot of Broncos fans, this disgusts me. It’s bad enough to endure humiliating defeats at the hands of the Raiders and the Chargers in the course of a single season. It’s bad enough to continue filling Invesco Field to the brim for a substandard on-the-field product (although that might be changing soon enough, Pat–just a heads-up… I’ve paid for my last ticket until I see some changes in your operation, and judging by the recent no-shows, I’m not alone). But to cheat … that’s the ultimate humiliation.
There’s no sense in reciting Broncos heritage here–there’s honestly no telling if past coaches lived and performed to a higher standard than McDaniels, who clearly brought with him to Denver a culture that turns a blind eye to major improprieties (how else do you explain the month that passed between the incident and the public acknowledgement?). But it is worth noting that McDaniels doesn’t come from the Broncos’ past–he’s not a “Michigan man” as Bo Schembechler would say. He comes from a win-at-all-cost system run by perhaps the most calculating mind in the history of the league in Bill Belichick. He can claim he didn’t watch the tape. He can shovel the blame up on Scarnecchia, the sacrificial lamb. He can apologize until he’s blue in the face.
But he’s in charge at Dove Valley. He’s the culprit, whether he hit “record” on the videocamera or not. And, because of this, he’s lost all credibility. It makes me wonder if Chief’s coach Todd Haley wasn’t too far off the mark when he refused McDaniels’ handshake and muttered something like, “People are talking s**t about you” as the coaches met at midfield after a rare Denver win a couple weeks back. At the time, I thought Haley’s move was about as JV as it could get. But now it seems … prophetic? Should those in the media have immediately asked the question, “What s**t are we talking about, here?”
Perhaps the only saving grace is that McDaniels and the Broncos haven’t translated their cheating into wins–instead of inciting anger and condemnation around the league, they’re just inciting a few giggles and some eye rolls. And rightly so. Our team, folks, is a joke. And McDaniels is the dude that adorns the two cards that only remain in the deck during a good game of nerd poker.
And Pat Bowlens’ statement? Well, I respect the owner for backing his coach–I would expect nothing less. But he, himself, said something in the statement that hits home all too hard: “This incident cuts into the trust and respect our fans, our ticket holders, our community and our fellow competitors have for our organization.”