NFL | Broncos move on minus Mike Shanahan
They were best friends as much as employee and boss. Nothing told that story better than the tears in the eyes of Pat Bowlen and Mike Shanahan...
DENVER — They were best friends as much as employee and boss. Nothing told that story better than the tears in the eyes of Pat Bowlen and Mike Shanahan as they talked about their sad farewell.
"This is as tough as it gets," Bowlen said Wednesday, his eyes moist, as he explained his day-old decision to fire the coach who finally brought the Super Bowl trophy to Denver.
"These are tough decisions, but that's what leaders do," Shanahan said, also trying to choke back tears.
They held separate news conferences, back to back, in a meeting room where the entrance features a life-size picture of John Elway hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. "This one's for John," Bowlen famously said on the Broncos' greatest day.
Eleven years later the owner and coach crossed paths in the hallway — Bowlen wearing an orange tie, Shanahan a mustard-colored sports coat with no sign of the orange and blue he has bled for more than two decades, the last 14 years as head coach.
Bowlen acknowledged the new coach probably wouldn't have full control of the organization the way Shanahan did over a franchise-defining tenure that will be remembered better for its successes than its failures.
As for short lists and timetables? Well, the wounds are too fresh right now.
"It's a process that starts today," Bowlen said. "I may end up regretting this decision. But right now, I'm very comfortable with the decision, that we've got to go in another direction."
It will cost Bowlen plenty, an emotional toll to tack onto the $20 million Shanahan will be owed if he doesn't get another job. But "if you're worried about what it's worth, get in some other business," Bowlen said.
Shanahan spent 100-hour weeks at the office and hundreds of millions of Bowlen's dollars — first to win two Super Bowls, then in an unsuccessful attempt to return the Broncos to that level in the post-Elway years.
"We were not the team we should have been," Bowlen said.
But he said he did not base his decision on this season, or the 52-21 loss to San Diego that brought it to an end.
"After 14 years, it was time to go in a different direction," Bowlen said, repeating the simplest and ultimate reason for the decision.
Of all the names being thrown out to replace Shanahan — Bill Cowher, Bill Parcells, Scott Pioli, Bob Stoops — none resonated louder than Elway's, most likely as a front-office type. The former quarterback has a nose for business and wants back in the game. He has not been contacted, nor ruled out, by Bowlen.
Shanahan wants to work again, but hasn't set a timeline.
• If Brett Favre wants to play another year with the New York Jets, he'll have to work a lot harder to win over his teammates than he did this past season. "There was a lot of resentment in the room about him," one Jets player told Newsday.
"He never socialized with us, never went to dinner with anyone." Asked to describe Favre in a word, the player said: "Distant."
• San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson (groin) sat out practice and plans to take it easy today going into Saturday's home wild-card game against Indianapolis.
• The Tennessee Titans returned to practice with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (knee), end Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) and center Kevin Mawae (elbow) all watching.
• San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary fired quarterbacks coach Ted Tollner and running-backs coach Tony Nathan.
• New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Jets assistants Brian Schottenheimer and Bill Callahan will interview for the Jets' head-coaching vacancy.
• The Dallas Cowboys have fired special-teams coach Bruce Read, making him the first assistant ousted in the wake of a disappointing season.
• The Detroit Lions are interested in speaking to Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier for their vacant coaching job.
• For the second time in three years, Chad Pennington is The Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year. The Miami Dolphins star is the first player in the 11 seasons of the award to win it twice.
• Linebacker Jerod Mayo, who led the New England Patriots in tackles, received the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 07:23 AM
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