INDIANAPOLIS — Frank Reich says by “going dark,” he shielded himself from all the drama and intrigue that surrounded the Indianapolis Colts’ search for a new head coach early this year.
Reich was the fallback choice for the Colts after New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels surprisingly changed his mind and turned down the job. That came two days after the Super Bowl and hours after the Colts had announced McDaniels would be the new man in Indianapolis.
Reich had not spoken to the Colts to that point. Reich had told his agent, Bob Lamonte, that he didn’t want to interview for any jobs while the playoffs were ongoing.
“I told him I’m going to go dark and I don’t want to entertain any offers,” said Reich, who was offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. “I’m not saying there was chatter. I don’t know what activity there would or would not have been for me. But when the playoffs started, I just knew I wanted to be focused and didn’t want to talk about or think about anything but that.”
Reich said pursuing a head-coaching job while preparing playoff game plans would have been too much of a distraction.
“I think back to those weeks, and it takes every second of the week,” Reich said. “I couldn’t imagine even taking an hour a day thinking about anything but trying to win a game.”
Lamonte also was McDaniels’ agent. But Reich said he wasn’t in the loop on McDaniels’ decision.
“We just got back from the Super Bowl parade," Reich said. "I saw the news come over my phone and I said, ‘Well, that’s unusual. What the heck happened?’ ”
Even then, Reich said he told Lamonte not to pursue the Colts. He wanted the Colts to come to him.
“I was talking to my wife Linda, and she said 'What do you think?' ” Reich said. “I said, 'Shoot, I’d love that job, but they know where I’m at.' I wasn’t going to campaign for it. I’ve seen and experienced that, and it doesn’t work.”
Reich had high-profile supporters. After the McDaniels decision, former Colts general manager Bill Polian called Colts owner Jim Irsay.
“It’s a bad time, but there’s a happy ending,” Polian told Irsay. “Your guy is out there. He’s the Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator.”
Finally, Reich was not a coaching bridesmaid. In January 2015, Reich interviewed for the Bills’ head-coaching job, which went to Rex Ryan. In November 2015, he interviewed for the head job at his alma mater, the University of Maryland. He lost out to D.J. Durkin.
The perception in the Buffalo search was executives Russ Brandon and Doug Whaley preferred Ryan not just because of his higher profile, but because Ryan was less likely to disrupt the Bills’ front-office power structure than Reich.
“I felt like the interview went extremely well, but I didn’t walk out of there thinking that I was their guy,” Reich said. “When Rex’s name came up, I didn’t think I was going to get it. I thought it’s a huge name and a lot of experience.”
Reich said he received a gracious letter from Kim Pegula after Ryan was picked.
“She sent an incredibly nice letter and it was very classy of the Pegulas,” he said. “I really think highly of them.”
“I think those situations helped prepare me for this situation," Reich said. "I’ve seen enough in my own career that when you’re disappointed that something doesn’t work out, you just believe that it’s not the right time and keep going. That certainly came to fruition.
“I think it was meant to be in Indianapolis.”