As the year 2008 came to a close, so did an era in Denver Broncos history.
Mike Shanahan, domestically known as a genius and a mastermind, was officially relieved of his duties as Denver Broncos head coach. During his 14-year tenure, he won two epic back-to-back Super Bowls.
Of course, he had a little help with the dynamic John Elway under center.
The late 90s defined Shanahan's career—which was exactly the problem.
Owner Pat Bowlen and the Broncos front administration grew weary of the Broncos' inability to accomplish much in the playoffs post-Elway. They had "circumnavigated" the football world twice already, yet they were looking in a new direction: enter Josh McDaniels.
Young, fiery, and accomplished-yet-not-proven, McDaniels made his point clear from day one: no one is safe. It's almost as if Bowlen completely handed the keys of the 'Vette to this first-time head coach, and no matter where McDaniels wanted to go, Bowlen was going to be down for the ride.
McDaniels's first order of business? Simple! Weed out your Pro Bowl quarterback and replace him with the guy you mentored, who was coming off of one good season.
An unproven coach and an unproven quarterback? To Bowlen, that's the recipe for success!
Word got out to Jay Cutler that the Broncos were heavily pursing a trade with the Patriots that would acquire Matt Cassel. Needless to say, he was a bit ... ticked. He thought he was the guy in Denver. He thought he was tried, tested, and true.
I can't really blame McDaniels for trying to get the guy he coached last season. He didn't draft Cutler. So, if Coach McDaniels comes in, and wants to implement a brand new offense, and Cutler doesn't fit, what happens? Is he going to tell Chris Simms to throw on a helmet and get out there?
Cutler, understandably, was befuddled and felt betrayed. He had been promised that other than Shanahan, there would be no more personnel moves and that everything would come to pass. But that's just it:
In the NFL, nothing comes to pass.
The NFL, just like a McDonald's, a Best Buy, or any other large corporation, is a business, first and foremost. Players get too attached to their cities and coaches. The NFL is a business, run by money-hungry owners and general managers. They want success at all costs, and they're going to ship out anyone and everyone who they feel is not going to warrant that.
I don't feel sorry for Cutler. He's mealy-mouthed and a bit too gaudy for my liking. However, the Broncos organization approached this situation the exact way that you don't want to: stubborn and impartial.
For a team that stumbled during the last half of the season, this cannot bode well.
The front administration of the Broncos must have felt the same, because they attempted to defuse the situation by meeting with Cutler on numerous occasions.
No matter. Cutler has vowed to never suit up for the Denver Broncos another day in his life, and even though McDaniels says otherwise, he is all but encouraging that notion.
Regardless, whether the Broncos trade him or keep him, the new coach is not making many friends within the organization. Maybe that's the way he likes it, maybe not.
Either way, it's about time that somebody else became more dysfunctional than the Raiders.
And that's sad.
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