Chris Ballard punctuated his impromptu news conference Wednesday morning with a message to the New England Patriots.
“The rivalry,” the Indianapolis Colts general manager declared, “is back on.”
The catalyst for Ballard’s fiery walk-off statement was Josh McDaniels’ last-minute decision to turn down the Colts’ head-coaching offer after he already had agreed to it. The Colts announced McDaniels’ hiring Tuesday only to be informed a few hours later that he had chosen to remain in his position as Patriots offensive coordinator.
Ballard said McDaniels, who was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference Wednesday afternoon, had agreed to terms with the Colts but had not officially signed his contract. Tuesday evening — reportedly after an intense final sales pitch by Patriots owner Robert Kraft — McDaniels told Ballard he had changed his mind.
Their conversation was brief, and Ballard said he did not try to persuade McDaniels to reconsider.
“There was no persuasion,” the GM said. “Let me make this clear: I want, and we want as an organization, a head coach that wants to be all-in.”
He later added: “I live in a black and white world. Either you’re in or you’re out. I didn’t want the explanation.”
Ballard said he wished McDaniels the best and that he planned to honor the contracts of the assistant coaches who had been hired to work under McDaniels.
The Patriots-Colts relationship was frosty in the wake of Deflategate but had improved since Ballard replaced former GM Ryan Grigson last January. The teams completed two trades during the past year: one for tight end Dwayne Allen and another involving quarterback Jacoby Brissett and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett.
New England and Indianapolis are scheduled to square off at Gillette Stadium during the 2018 season.
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