Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay was asked the day after winning Super Bowl LVI whether he would return to the sidelines the next season.
“We’ll see,” was his response.
It was not what people expected.
Since then there has been speculation about McVay’s future with the Rams. Now coming off a 5-12 season, chatter has ramped up about whether the 36-year-old will return as the Rams head coach.
Here’s the timeline of events in the last four days, including McVay’s words throughout.
Two weeks after the Super Bowl.
“I know I love football and I’m so invested in this thing and I’m in the moment right now,” McVay said in February. “But at some point, too, if you said what do you want to be able to do? I want to be able to have a family and I want to be able to spend time with them.”
Analysis: McVay has won a Super Bowl, but he’s also about to get married and start a family. He’s recognizing that his priorities may change.
Friday, January 6
McVay is asked in a press conference before the Seahawks game about the interest networks have shown in him to be a broadcaster.
“It’s flattering. These are always things that you anticipate and expect that are going to come up. I haven’t run away from the fact that down the line it’s something I have been interested in, but I want to be here right now and focus on that.”
Analysis: I’ve been a reporter a long time. My instinct is someone was tipped off to ask McVay about his future because the agents were talking to the networks again. And his answer wasn’t exactly one sided, like, “no way, that’s over and done. I want to be the Rams head coach forever.” Cue the speculation.
Saturday, January 7
It starts with an Adam Schefter tweet, like so many other things. Schefter, the ESPN.com NFL insipid insider, said McVay’s Rams future is in limbo.
This is quickly picked up by other NFL insiders (they all talk to the same people – McVay’s agent, Rams GM Les Snead) and the story grows.
Analysis: You can be a cynic and think this is all being planted to give McVay a gentle exit from the Rams (or maybe more $$ from the TV networks), or you can believe this is all sincerely a young man at a crossroads in his life. I’m going to vote sincere for now.
Sunday, January 8
The Sunday NFL pregame shows live for this kind of rumor/chatter so they weigh in on McVay right away.
Jay Glazer on Fox says, “When you talk to (people inside the building) they’d be more surprised if he came back than if he left.”
Mike Florio on NBC reports “My understanding is it’s not because of burnout, or because he wants to get into TV. He won a Super Bowl. He is looking at a multi-year rebuild that he doesn’t want to be a part of.”
Analysis: Florio is the first people to maybe report the Why, suggesting McVay sees the Rams at the bottom for a while and doesn’t want to go through the process. Is this legit? It could be, or it just might be an excuse.
Monday, January 9
McVay gives his press conference for the assembled media. For over 12 minutes he answers questions about his future. He smiles throughout. His voice remains steady. He calls the reporters by name (demonstrating a trusting relationship).
Among the things he said:
“I am going to take the next couple of days to really be able to reflect and have conversations with various people that will dictate and determine the decision that’s best for me and my family.”
When asked who those people were he said his family members and people in the Rams organization.
“I am a very impulsive person and patience is not something that I do have. So I want to approach the approach I am taking, especially as it relates to a decision of this magnitude and all the different layers that are involved.”
“This isn’t a new thing. This has been something that has gone on for a handful of years.”
“It’s a beautiful challenge. I wouldn’t change any part of this. A lot of reflection is based on the culmination of years…for this to come up last year…there’s a convenient narrative on other options out there [alluding to the TV offers] but you want to make a decision that is in the best interest of this platform and the opportunities it provides. That’s as simple as it gets.”
(This is kind of a word salad, but basically he’s saying being head coach of the Rams takes time and commitment, one he’s not sure he can give).
“Do I love coaching? Hell yeah. Have there been a lot of things that have made it a challenge and strain because of my own self-inflicted things? No question about it.”
“I wouldn’t change this for the world. This needed to occur. This was a necessary part of the growth and development for me to be the person that I needed to be instead of worrying about some things that you worried about before. What is the best way to continue to move forward?”
Not done with football
“I don’t get the sense in the least bit that I am done coaching.”
Asked if he has a timeline, McVay said no.
“I don’t want to put a timeline on it. I want to take the appropriate time. It’s a beautiful torment. I wouldn’t change any of it.”
McVay told the story about Tom Brady saying he hopes his kids find something they are passionate about like he is about football. McVay said he can relate to that mindset.
“I wouldn’t change any of it and as you reflect on how to move forward…I am 36-years-old. I have endless amounts of energy still. How do you make sure you move forward and how do you do it best for your wife and family members and when you’re in a role of this magnitude, do it t he way you’re capable of.”
Analysis: McVay’s press conference was an unprecedented look into an NFL head coach’s thought process (like, can you imagine Bill Belichick talking this way?) on his future. McVay sounds torn between things he loves to do and the people he loves. My guess is he probably knows what he wants to do, but wants to make sure that he is comfortable with the decision he’s made.